There may be some irony in Maryland's struggles to manage water full of chemicals. The eastern counties argue over how to reduce the toxicity of runoff and how to keep it out of Chesapeake Bay. The western counties are arguing over the impact of pumping millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into the earth to extract natural gas. The General Assembly finds itself in the unenviable position of addressing both sides of both issues during this session.
For the time being, it seems, the issue of hydraulic fracturing in natural gas mining is not open for debate. Six senators from eastern counties recently watched their proposal to ban fracking die in committee. Two committees, actually: The Finance Committee and the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee voted by large margins to kill the bill. As the senators were voting, a letter from Allegany County was making its way to Annapolis asking them to oppose the ban.