Candidates differ over 'fracking'

Seeking to highlight her green credentials in the race for governor, Del. Heather Mizeur took issue Friday with the environmental platform posted this week by the front-running ticket of Lt. Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.

Mizeur's campaign issued a statement accusing Brown and Ulman of glossing over the dangers of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and making "vague statements" about how to exploit the energy deposits in western Maryland without harming the environment or people's health.

Mizeur, D-Montgomery, has pushed unsuccessfully for years for a moratorium on "fracking" until its safety has been thoroughly studied and adequate safeguards are in place.  Though the legislation has not passed, Gov. Martin O'Malley has frozen drilling for past three years while an advisory commission on which Mizeur sits reviews the issues.

In their "environmental values" platform posted on the campaign web site this week, Brown and Ulman said they want to protect western Maryland families and the state's rural areas while pursuing "new energy opportunities." 

"While the energy potential of the Marcellus Shale represents an enticing economic opportunity, we will not accept a process that jeopardizes our families or environment," they added.

Mizeur called hers "a more cautious approach" amid reports of contaminated wells in neighboring states with widespread fracking.  She said she's joined with Sen. Ron Young, a Frederick County Democrat, in pushing this year for an 18-month delay in any drilling once the state commission finishes its review this summer.  She said that was needed to give the General Assembly a chance to act any recommendations the panel makes.

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