A group of Maryland General Assembly members introduced a bill Thursday that would temporarily halt hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural gas drilling method environmentalists and health officials say requires closer investigation.
The Protect Our Health and Communities Act would place a limited statewide moratorium on fracking until more studies are done to determine the technique’s long-term environmental and public health affects.
The extraction method involves blasting a gallons of water and chemicals underground to fracture rock and release the natural gas.
Fracking opponents criticized recent recommendations from a state commission charged with studying the risks of the drilling method, saying it does not go far enough to protect human health.
Opening Maryland up to fracking right now would be “simply reckless,” said bill sponsor Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo (D-Montgomery).
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has said he believes hydraulic fracturing is critical to the state’s economy and has been thoroughly examined. Former governor Martin O’Malley (D) decided last year to allow drilling for natural gas in Western Maryland under strict public health and environmental safeguards.