Opponents of the drilling technique hydraulic fracturing, commonly called "fracking," are asking the General Assembly to approve an 18-month moratorium on the practice in the state.
This summer, a commission tasked by Gov. Martin O'Malley will issue its recommendations on how to allow fracking in Maryland. Parts of western Maryland in the state's pandhandle lie atop the Marcellus Shale, the rock formation that companies in neighboring states have received permits to start drilling into for natural gas.
Mike Tidwell, the director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, says the bill would prevent drilling permits from being issued for 18 months after the commission's report is released.
"That gives the General Assembly basically two sessions to look at this," Tidwell says. "We think that is fair. It's not onerous on the industry. We want to get all the facts on the table."
Supporters of allowing fracking say the issue has been studied enough in Maryland and it's time for permits to be issued as has been done in neighboring states.
The moratorium bill failed to get out of a Senate committee by one vote last year.