On March 27, 2017, the Maryland Senate passed legislation aimed at permanently banning the energy recovery method of hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking”, in all of Maryland. This is bad news for Maryland families and businesses as a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing could deprive the state of future jobs, government revenue, and affordable energy that would result from energy production.
Currently there are no fracking operations in Maryland, so the state depends on natural gas safely produced in neighboring states. This is a victory for competing states as out of state businesses are supplying the demand for affordable energy in Maryland, but an economic missed opportunity for Maryland.
Research supports this missed opportunity as a 2012 study found natural gas drilling in Maryland could add over 1,800 jobs annually in the state as well as give a $85 million increase to labor income. Additionally, the study revealed that in-state natural gas expansion creates the potential for an economic boost of over $316 million to the Maryland economy.
Since 2006, there has been an 18 percent rise in the use of natural gas in Maryland, as the price of natural gas for consumers has fallen 26 percent. This has lead to hundreds in annual savings for Maryland households and businesses on energy costs. It is also the case that since 2006 Maryland’s energy-related emissions dropped by almost 40 percent as a result of increased natural gas use.
The combined savings from increased natural gas usage and potential increase in economic activity from allowing new energy production in the state are hard to ignore.
Consequently, the legislation proposed would deter any in-state incentives to start hydraulic fracturing operations in the future, which if allowed could likely reduce the price of natural gas for all Maryland consumers even further. In essence, this legislation prevents the possible creation of new energy production jobs in Maryland, while completely disregarding the rising demand for natural gas in the state.
Rising demand in Maryland creates a tempting opportunity for Maryland businesses to sprout up and provide resulting benefits to Maryland residents and businesses through affordable and reliable energy. Unfortunately, potential economic growth and the resulting benefits could be permanently destroyed if the Governor signs off on this misguided legislation.
Embracing the potential future benefits of safe hydraulic fracturing in Maryland would benefit state consumers and businesses. Thus, the only way to preserve the potential for growing energy jobs in Maryland and keep the cost of natural gas on the decline for consumers and businesses is to stop this misguided legislation.