CUMBERLAND — Sen. George Edwards registered disappointment Friday after learning of a press conference in which Gov. Larry Hogan announced his support for a fracking ban.
Edwards and the three delegates who make up the District 1 Delegation have been staunch advocates for hydraulic fracturing in Western Maryland.
Hogan had not indicated in the past year that he opposed fracking, much less expressing any desire for an outright ban, according to Edwards.
"I learned about it a few minutes before the press conference," said Edwards. "That's the way the process works."
Edwards received word of Hogan's decision shortly before the 3:30 p.m. press conference.
"It would have been nice to have known this a month ago," said Edwards. "It would have saved us this back and forth over the issue."
Maryland currently has a moratorium in place against fracking until Oct. 1. A bill banning fracking passed the House of Delegates on March 10.
The Senate has two pieces of legislation pending. One bill calls for a ban while the second bill, introduced by Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore City), would extend the moratorium but allow counties to put the issue on the ballot for a referendum.
Edwards supported the referendum.
"They won't do anything with that (referendum) bill now," said Edwards. "It won't go anywhere. It (Hogan's decision) will basically take care of the issue."
Del. Wendell Beitzel took to social media Friday afternoon to express his frustration.
"Without going into great detail I will simply state that I am very disappointed with his (Hogan's) position," Beitzel wrote. "While campaigning for governor, he implied to members of the Western Maryland delegation he supports responsible natural gas development. We were told that the 'war on Western Maryland was over.' It appears that the governor has capitulated to the environmental community."
Edwards said the delegation will try to create an opportunity for Western Maryland by looking for something in return for the economic losses resulting from a ban on fracking for natural gas and oil.
"We're working on some things," said Edwards. "They are putting the clamps on us. We need to get a few things from the state to help us. Allegany County is in bad shape economically. Western Maryland is struggling."
Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.