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Maryland Delegate Pushes To Suspend Fracking, Pending Study

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The spotlight is on hydraulic fracturing or fracking in Montgomery County, as a lawmaker seeks to ban the natural gas drilling method until more research can be done.

"In other states, they've drilled first and asked questions later," said Del. Heather Mizeur. At a rally in Baltimore today, she  joined Pennsylvania land owners, like Craig Stevens, who say they believe fracking has turned their tap water brown.

"The color and the taste we're not so worried about, it's what in the water," said Stevens.

As part of the fracking process, natural gas drillers pump millions of gallons of water and chemicals underground to crack shale formations and free the gas. Critics, like Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said the process could affect water and air quality.

"I personally have a lot of questions that haven't been answered. So for example, what would be the impact on our climate? When you frack for natural gas, there's a lot of methane that's releasing  — odorless, invisible gas. Let's look at this closely. Let's have a full, robust, democratic debate."

An executive order set forth by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley already puts a hold on fracking until more research can be done, but it is not a law and Delegate Heather Mizeur says she fears natural gas companies will just wait until a new governor is in office and then begin drilling.

"There will be no drilling in the state of Maryland until or unless we have robust scientific studies on the environmental and public health impacts of this type of activity," said Mizeur.

Maryland lawmakers shot down a bill in this year's session that would have funded a two-year study. Supporters say the drilling provides energy, jobs and income for landowners, who lease their property to the natural gas companies.

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