The SGA approved a resolution to support a coalition against fracking in the state of Maryland at its meeting Wednesday night in Stamp Student Union’s Hoff Theater.
The vote was 23-3 with four abstentions after a debate in which several legislators took turns holding the affirmative and negative floors.
Don’t Frack Maryland is “committed to passing a permanent, statewide fracking ban” in this state, according to the coalition’s website. The resolution means the Student Government Association will join over 100 organizations to officially endorse a permanent ban on fracking in this state.
Amelia Avis, an SGA Student Sustainability Committee member and an intern at the Environmental Protection Agency, wrote the resolution. Lily Kilduff, an off-campus neighboring representative, sponsored it.
“I personally grew up on well water and I never thought as a kid that water itself could become a non-renewable resource,” Kilduff said regarding the possible detriments of fracking.
Kilduff, a junior sociology major, pointed out that the SGA signed resolutions in 2014 and 2013 to support a statewide moratorium on fracking.
The Maryland Senate passed the temporary ban in October 2015, which remains in effect until October 2017. The state legislature would have to vote on an extension during the upcoming session next spring, said Mihir Khetarpal, SGA director of governmental affairs, in his committee report on the resolution.
Student legislators who took the negative floor said fracking creates jobs and helps keep the cost of oil down.
“The economic benefits outweigh the potential environmental detriments,” said Caroline Larkin, a behavioral and social sciences representative and freshman government and politics major.
Kilduff used their economic argument to say fracking could have a negative effect on the economy in a different way, should the state’s water be harmed.
“Maryland has a very unique tourism industry that is built on the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding watersheds,” Kilduff said. The bay is currently struggling with problems such as pollution, habitat degradation and contamination, according to a September article from The Diamondback.
Going forward, the SGA’s Student Sustainability Committee will “support student-led efforts to support this ban and encourage involvement in the campaign [and] stay active in the campaign for a ban on fracking in Maryland throughout the academic year as opportunities for involvement present themselves,” according to the resolution’s action plan.
In other business, finance-trained legislators voted 10-0 with no abstentions to overturn an SGA Finance Committee recommendation to deny Group Help funding to Erasable Inc., a student improvisational group, for their Halloween show Oct. 21.
Group Help funding is an avenue for SGA-recognized student groups to receive program funding if they were not fully funded in the original September allocation period, said Katherine Sudbrook, SGA assistant vice president of finance. The Finance Committee recommended not to approve Erasable Inc.’s request because its program date fell before the corresponding funded period beginning Oct. 22, Sudbrook said.
The vote means that Erasable Inc. may still receive its requested funding, but Sudbrook warned that with fewer than 10 calendar days before the program, there is no guarantee the appropriate contracts can be written in time.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Mihir Khetarpal. This article has been updated.