This week, Maryland’s House of Delegates passed a three-year moratorium on fracking. The final vote: 93-45. The House also passed a crude-by-rail measure directing the state’s environment and health departments to study risks and find out how many crude oil trains travel through Maryland. The tally: 123-14. Both have margins sufficient to sustain a veto. The Maryland Senate also passed a fracking liability bill 29-17, also a large enough margin for a veto override. The proposals now sit in the opposite chamber awaiting a hearing with the clock ticking toward the end of the legislative session.
This week, the Maryland General Assembly (MGA) began its 435th legislative session.
The political dynamic has changed dramatically since last year. November’s election provided us with dozens of new delegates and senators, as well as a new Republican governor, Larry Hogan.
In keeping up with the tradition of waiting until the public is not paying attention, the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), released their latest draft regulations for fracking, and other unconventional well stimulation on Friday, June 13, at 4:00PM local time – right before the weekend.
As required by SB4, DOGGR updated the proposed permanent regulations, which were released in November 2013, right before Thanksgiving. Earthworks, along with our partner organizations in California, submitted extensive comments that would enhance the regulations, and truly protect Californians' health and the environment.
The town of Shafter, in Central California’s Kern County, has become ground zero hydraulic fracturing in the state. Dozens of wells have been fracked in the small town, with some wells just a few hundred feet from schools, parks, homes, and churches.
The largely Hispanic community has suffered from health impacts, including headaches, nosebleeds, asthma, and increased incidences of cancer. They are tired of suffering the consequences of expanded unconventional oil extraction, while oil companies continue to line their pockets with profits.
On May 29, the California Senate voted against advancing a bill to place a moratorium on fracking in the state. The bill, SB1132, co-authored by Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), would have placed a temporary moratorium on fracking and acidizing until an environmental impact study on these practices is completed.
Although disappointing, this turn of events is not surprising. The industry spent huge amounts of money to defeat this bill, even after the recent downgrade of the Monterey Shale by the Energy Information Agency – a whopping 96% of original estimates of recoverable oil. With the promise of millions of jobs, and billions of dollars in tax revenue vanishing in an instant, the industry and supporters continued to push on the promise that continued fracking would bring about jobs.
Yesterday, SB1132, a bill introduced by Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) to the California Legislature, advanced out of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. The bill, which calls for a moratorium on fracking and other types of unconventional well stimulation until the full effects of these techniques are studied, passed with strong support on a 5-2 vote, with 2 abstentions.