Poll Finds Majority Of Marylanders Oppose Fracking

They support a ban on the practice in the state. 

Annapolis, Md (KM)  A poll conducted by OpinionWorks in August  has found a majority of Marylanders are in favor of banning hydraulic fracturing. The survey of 802 residents found that 56% support a prohibition on fracking, while 28% are opposed. “The message of this poll is clearly that Marylanders overwhelmingly support a ban on fracking in our state,” says Monique Sullivan with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “We’ve known  for quite some time that the movement to ban fracking in Maryland is growing, and these poll numbers reflect that very clearly.

The survey was conducted by OpinionWorks on behalf of the “Don’t Frack Maryland” coalition.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of drilling down deep underground, and using water and chemicals to extract natural gas. In other parts of the country, when fracking operations have been set up, nearby homeowners complained about contaminated well water which they rely on for drinking, cooking and bathing. The industry says the water contamination is not caused by hydraulic fracturing.

If fracking were to occur in Maryland, it would probably take place in Allegheny and Garrett Counties, which sit over the Marcellus Shale. But there are two shale basins under Frederick County, and fracking could come to our area. Sullivan says there’s a local effort to try to get Frederick County’s elected officials to enact a local ban on hydraulic fracturing. “In late September, over 1,000 petitions were delivered by concerned residents urging the Frederick County Council to take the steps banning fracking in the county,” she says. So far, hydraulic fracturing has not been placed on any future Council agenda.

Currently, the state has a moratorium on fracking until October, 2017.

That issue is expected to get a lot of attention during the upcoming 2017 General Assembly. Opponents are expected to work to persuade the Legislature to ban fracking in Maryland. “One of the reasons for the urgency of this happening this spring, is that unless state legislators take action, Governor Larry Hogan’s Administration could allow industrial drilling operations to start in Maryland as soon as October, 2017, when our current moratorium expires,” she says.

OpinionWorks also oversampled five legislative districts across the state, including the 3rd Legislative District in Frederick County. That survey found that 55% of local residents support a ban on fracking, while 25% are opposed. In Garrett County, 57% of respondents support a prohibition on hydraulic fracturing, and 27% are against.

Part of the question about fracking concerns jobs. Supporters of the process say it will provide jobs in depressed areas such as western Maryland. “Obviously, we want to grow a strong economy in Maryland. But I think there are much better ways to do it: from solar power to wind power to energy efficiency that don’t create a small number of jobs while polluting our environment,” says Sullivan.

By Kevin McManus