Maryland State of the State Address – Photo Courtesy of the Office of Governor Martin O’Malley
The first month of Maryland’s legislative session has already passed, and we’ve heard about gun control, offshore wind, and more. While much is still to come over the next two and half months, offshore wind and a fracking moratorium have become a popular part of the conversation in Annapolis.
Governor O’Malley’s Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 is already making headway this session. This past Wednesday, the Governor delivered the State of the State Address where he announced, “There’s another important thing we can do this year to create jobs, and that is off-shore wind.” In 2012, the US Chamber of Commerce ranked Maryland the #1 state in the nation for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Governor O’Malley has recognized that through offshore wind, Maryland can only take this lead further: “Moving forward with Atlantic offshore wind could make Maryland the new regional manufacturing hub for wind turbines. We will create jobs and we will generate abundant, clean, renewable energy, but only if we choose. Let’s get this done” the Governor proclaimed in his speech.
The bill is starting to progress both in the House of Delegates and in the Senate. On January 21st, Speaker Busch brought forth the bill’s House version, HB0226, to for its First Reading. It has since been scheduled for a hearing before the House Economic Matters Committee on Tuesday, February 5th at 1:00pm. In the Senate, President Miller presented the bill’s cross-file, SB0275, for a First Reading on January 18th. SB0275 will have its first hearing on February 13th at 1:00pm in before the Senate Finance Committee.
Clean Currents recently announced public support of the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013. See our statement here.
On January 16th, 2013, Governor O’Malley introduced the FY2014 budget. In this proposed budget, he set aside money to continue with funding studies of the risks associated with fracking in Maryland. On the following day, Secretary Summers and the Governor’s 15-members task force on Marcellus Shale Drilling delivered a briefing of its current findings in a briefing before the House Environmental Matters Committee.
The discussion on fracking has been a strong initial surge this session in the fight against fracking in Maryland, but there is still a discussion among some lawmakers of a need for a fracking moratorium that would guarantee legal protections against fracking and also ensure that all of the dangers associated with fracking such as those to climate, human health and the environment, are accounted. Delegate Mizeur of Montgomery County has said that she is drafting a bill to replace the Governor’s current moratorium with a legally binding one that could not be lifted until after, “vigorous independent scientific review.”
So far this session, Delegate Robinson of Montgomery County and Senator Montgomery of Montgomery County have introduced HB 0337 and SB0514 entitled Natural Gas — Hydraulic Fracturing — Prohibition. Both lawmakers have also introduced HB 0341 and SB0513 entitled Environment Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater — Prohibited Acts. These bills have all undergone their first readings but have not yet been scheduled for their first hearings.
As these two topics develop throughout the legislative session, we will continue to post bi-weekly updates on any forward progress. See past updates and keep up by following us on Facebook and Twitter!