Hydraulic fracturing in Maryland is gone for good. Members of the Don’t Frack Maryland coalition led a tireless and uncompromising campaign for a total ban rather than settle for the so-called safe-fracking measures first supported by the governor and state legislators.
The coalition used hard evidence to reveal the ecological devastation fracking has caused in neighboring states. In Pennsylvania for example, earthquakes, air and water pollution, and increased radioactive radon gas levels are realities.
These facts convinced sixty-percent of Maryland residents to oppose fracking. They refused to buy into false promises of jobs and dollars peddled by the energy industry and their legislative cohorts. In the final days of the debate, protesters put their bodies on the line and a dozen were arrested outside the chamber while the Senate wavered over possible changes to weaken the bill.
This is a colossal achievement for organizers. Maryland sits on top of major natural gas reserves. The decision is both a victory for the environment and a serious challenge to big energy companies.
Although some made much of the “bipartisan effort” on the part of legislators, the law actually resulted from a five-year battle by activists to educate and win over the public. Leafleting campaigns, countywide organizing, and a thousand-person march in the state capitol ensured that the bill wasn’t altered in the hands of pro-business politicians.
As people continue to stand up against drilling, pipelines, and shipping terminals, Maryland stands out as the third U.S. state to halt fracking. It is a heartening example of the power of real facts, reinforced by the mass determination and organizing of those willing to fight for the earth they live on.
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