By: Cody Boteler, Editor-in-Chief
I was pretty darn surprised when Gov. Larry Hogan announced his support for a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing — aka fracking.
Fracking is a drilling process used to extract natural gas from deep underground. While, yes, natural gas burns a whole lot cleaner than, say, coal, natural gas is still a fossil fuel, which means that using it for energy contributes to climate change and the greenhouse effect.
And the fracking processes that are used to gather that natural gas can be damaging. There have been reports of polluted water, water that catches fire coming out of peoples’ sinks and even, in some places, earthquakes that have been linked to the drilling practice.
Some people wanted to bring that process to western Maryland. There are property owners in western Maryland who have had their land leased out to drilling companies for decades, with those companies just waiting for the right time to drill, baby, drill.
Then, Maryland lawmakers passed a two-year moratorium on fracking in the state. That moratorium expires in October — unless the legislature passes a law outlawing the practice.
For awhile, it looked like the political will existed in the populace and in the state government to make it happen, but there was always some uncertainty. Now that Hogan has announced his support for a ban, though, it seems almost certain that it will become law.
So, for the first time since his election to governor, I say kudos to Larry Hogan. Supporting a ban on fracking was right for the state of Maryland. We don’t need giant drills in our mountains. We don’t need giant trucks to move drilling equipment up and down the switchbacks of western Maryland. We don’t need to risk polluting our waterways and putting more carbon dioxide (or, perhaps more consequentially, methane) into the atmosphere.
I’m proud of Gov. Hogan. I’m not proud of the way he did it. Hogan, in announcing his support for a ban, blamed the state legislature for not being able to come up with ways to safely frack, so, we may as well ban it.
It was a way of passing the buck to the legislature and washing his hands of the situation. Instead of boldly saying, “Yes, I’m a Republican, but I’m the governor of Maryland and we value our environment,” Hogan stood up and said, “Well, since the legislature didn’t do this, we’re just going to ban fracking in the state. Sorry, guys.”
While I think hiding behind the supposed failures of the legislature is, to say the least, not the best way to say you support something, I remain glad that Hogan announced his support for a fracking ban. I definitely don’t agree with how he did it.
But stymying the expansion of fossil fuels is definitely one are where, in some cases, the ends justify the means.