Respondents want studies before allowing it in Maryland.
A new poll finds strong support for a moratorium on "fracking." The survey conducted by OpinionWorks on behalf of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network found that 78% of respondents want the General Assembly to require safety and environmental studies done before the process is allowed in Maryland. The poll found that 88% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans support this position. The results also show that 76% of Western Maryland residents support studies before "fracking" is allowed. If this process is permitted in the state, Western Maryland would be impacted the most.
"We did a similar study a year ago, and 71% of Marylanders thought there should be studies before 'fracking.' This year that number went up 7% to 78%," says Mike Tidwell, the Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. "What that tells is that the more Marylanders learn about this drilling method called 'fracking' for natural gas, the more concerned they get,"
"Fracking" is the process of drilling down into deep underground rock formations to extract natural gas, using water, chemicals and sand. It has been used in Pennsylvania along the Marcellus Shale. Opponent say it's resulted in flammable tap water, mini-earthquakes, fish kills and livestock needing to be quarantined. The natural gas industry says those problems are not caused by "fracking."
"The natural gas industry has run all kinds of ads, radio, TV, print, saying that Marylanders want this, and it's going to create jobs for Marylanders, and create value for landowners, and that's true in a lot of Western Maryland," says Tidwell. "But it's also true that a majority of Western Maryland voters don't want to rush into this."
These results come on the eve of a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon before the State Senate's Health, Education and Environmental Affairs Committee on a bill to put a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. "'Fracking' safety bills have died in that committee the last two years. But we believe this year, it has a good shot of passing. In part, because Senator Ron Young of Washington and Frederick Counties, representing both those counties, has become supportive of the bill," says Tidwell.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:00 PM in Annapolis. The bill, known as SB 601, the Maryland Hydraulic fracturing Moratorium and Right to Know Act of 2013, is sponsored by Baltimore County Senator Bobby Zirkin.
Governor Martin O'Malley has requested "fracking" studies as part of a June, 2011, executive order, but no sufficient funding has been guaranteed. Legal experts think it could be challenged in court unless it's backed up by the legislature.
The poll by OpinionWorks was conducted among 800 randomly-selected Maryland residents between December 25th, 2012 and January 2nd, 2013. It has a margin of sampling error of no greater than 3.5%,