The House of Delegates voted by a veto-proof margin on Friday to ban in the natural gas extraction method known as fracking in Maryland, sending the bill to the Senate.
Delegates voted 97-40 — 12 more than needed to override a possible veto by Gov. Larry Hogan — after a lengthy debate during which lawmakers from Western Maryland pleaded with their colleagues not to stand in the way of what they portrayed as an economic lifeline for the struggling region.
Garrett and Allegany counties are seen as the parts of the state most likely to have gas deposits that could be reached by fracking.
The majority, including a handful of Republicans, voted to ban the practice after hearing arguments that science shows that the risk of earthquakes, water contamination and health problems increases in fracked areas.
Del. Kumar Barve, chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, welcomed the margin of victory.
"That gives us momentum to win in the Senate," the Montgomery County Democrat said.
His Senate counterpart, Sen. Joan Carter Conway, has said she doesn't want to pass a ban with less than a veto-proof margin.
Without enough votes to override a veto, the Baltimore Democrat contends, it would be better to just extend a moratorium on the method technically called hydraulic fracturing.
Barve expressed confidence that there will be a veto-proof majority in the state Senate.