This is a guest blog post from Darien Pusey, Maryland fracking fellow. You can reach him at DarienP@chesapeakeclimate.org.
Today, I had the pleasure of watching the Prince George’s County Council vote UNANIMOUSLY to ban fracking in my home county.
Councilwoman Mary Lehman introduced Council Bill 3-2016 on February 2nd. The bill amends the Prince George’s County zoning ordinance to prohibit fracking. The County Council’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee voted unanimously to pass the bill February 17th, and the full County Council followed suit today.
This was a historic moment in the fight against fracking in Maryland – a sign that the movement against fracking in Maryland is growing. Today’s unanimous vote makes Prince George’s the first county to adopt a ban on fracking since CCAN and our allies won a two-year legislative moratorium on the practice last year. (Remember that?! A hard won, true grassroots victory.) Before the moratorium was in place, one other county, Montgomery County, quietly adopted a change to their zoning laws that basically prohibits fracking in the county.
I could not have felt more thankful sitting in that room this morning – thank you to Councilwoman Mary Lehman for her vision and leadership in introducing this bill, thank you to the PZED committee for voting unanimously to pass it, thank you to Council members Turner, Glaros, Patterson, Franklin and Tavares for sponsoring it, and thank you to Chairman Davis and the whole council for holding this hearing and vote today.
And I could not have felt more proud – proud of CCAN and our allies at Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club and the Greenbelt Climate Action Network for quickly spreading the word about this previously unknown threat to Prince George’s County’s air, water, and property values, not to mention the global climate, and proud of the more than one thousand concerned residents like you who stood up to say no to fracking in our county.
Like the hard won victory that was the moratorium, this ban in Prince George’s wouldn’t have happened without the citizen movement behind it. Dozens of you turned out for community meetings to learn more about what fracking would mean to our county. You called, you emailed, you met with your county council members. You met with business owners and church leaders. You testified at county council hearings. You petitioned on college campuses and in your communities. All of that work culminated in this morning’s victory. Congratulations!
As Councilwoman Lehman said in voting for the bill this morning, “Our action here today will lay the groundwork for a statewide ban in Maryland.”
Now that Maryland’s two most populous counties, who combined represent more than a third of the state’s population, have said no to fracking, it’s time for the General Assembly to follow suit.
I’m confident that in the coming year, the growing citizen movement that secured today’s victory will push our leaders in Annapolis to follow the lead of these two forward thinking counties and pass a permanent statewide ban on fracking before the moratorium expires in October 2017.
And I think I speak for everyone here at CCAN when I say that we can’t wait to work alongside you to win that final grassroots victory against fracking in Maryland!