Saturday, February 22, 2020
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Fracking could be banned in Maryland

Gov Larry Hogan, Republican of Maryland, announced Friday, at an ad hoc news conference, that since he was unconvinced fracking could occur in the state while protecting the environment, he would support a total ban on fracking, the Baltimore Sun reports.


Hogan, 7th Annual Oyster Roast & Sock Burning, Saturday (Anthony DePanise / Maryland GovPics via Flickr CC)

Fracking is the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into rocks in the Earth’s crust through boreholes. It forces open existing fissures and allows companies to extract oil or gas that lies in the bedrock.

But it has also damaged the environment, leading to, for example, an increase in earthquakes in states like Oklahoma, where fracking has created fissures in the Earth’s foundation where none previously existed. These fissures act like faults and lead to earthquakes.

Mr Hogan said passing a law that would prohibit fracking in Maryland was “an important initiative to safeguard our environment” and would make Maryland one of the first states to pass an outright ban on the process, although he had previously expressed support for the process if it could be done in an “environmentally sensitive matter.”

When a company decides to use fracking, it basically drills a vertical well, or one at an angle, that goes from the Earth’s surface to a depth of about 1 to 2 miles, sometimes more. The US Environmental Protection Agency says the well is typically encased in steel or cement, just to make sure it doesn’t leak any oil into the groundwater.

The casings are generally considered safe and all, but the fissures the fracking process creates in the Earth’s crust cannot be repaired and remain long after the last drop of oil or molecule of natural gas has been extracted and the company moves on.

More than 275,000 natural gas wells could be found in the US in 2000. But the number rose to 510,000 in just 10 years, according to the US Department of Energy, and we add about 13,000 new wells every year.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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