In early 2015, Waterkeepers Chesapeake joined the Don’t Frack Maryland Coalition to push of a long-term moratorium on fracking in Maryland. As a result of a broad-based, grassroots campaign, the Maryland General Assembly passed a two-year moratorium on fracking in 2015. The law prevents any drilling activity through October 2017. The same legislation, however, requires the Hogan administration to prepare regulations for drilling by October 1, 2016. Those regulations would go into effect as soon as the moratorium expires, unless the state takes further action.
Don’t Frack Maryland is now calling for a statewide ban, citing the fact that no state has developed and enforced regulations protective enough of the environment and public health to warrant allowing it. In fact, Maryland’s proposed regulations are remarkably weak and would put our drinking water, air and health in danger.
Rather than use the time during the moratorium to conduct a thorough risk assessment of fracking, Governor Hogan’s administration instead issued proposed changes to draft regulations written during Governor O’Malley’s tenure that would further weaken, not strengthen state fracking rules. These changes include elimination or reduction of setbacks to protect surface and groundwater drinking water aquifers, including Deep Creek Lake, and shamefully weak air and water quality monitoring requirements.
A growing body of peer-reviewed evidence finds that fracking simply cannot be done without risk to public health and the environment—and that regulations are not capable of preventing harm. An overview of more than 500 peer-reviewed studies by Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility points to “a plethora of … harms that cannot be averted or cannot be sufficiently averted through regulatory frameworks.”
Concerns over the long-term health impacts of fracking continue to mount. Three studies have been released by John’s Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that fracking activities are associated with premature births, with an increased risk of asthma attacks, and with increased migraines, fatigue and chronic sinus problems. The amount of evidence showing severe public health impacts just keeps growing and growing.
While Garrett and Allegany counties would be immediately and disproportionately burdened if fracking proceeds, the long term impacts would be felt across Maryland. Federal approval of the Cove Point natural gas export terminal will spur development of natural gas pipelines and compressor stations across the state, resulting in additional air and water impacts. Western Maryland has already endured the tainted legacy of acid mine drainage from abandoned coal mines, which severely impact local streams and the Potomac River. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past and allow harmful fossil fuel extraction that will benefit the gas industry and burden local communities and future generations.
It’s not just this coalition that’s opposed to fracking. A broad range of business and community interests in Maryland have spoken out, including dozens of business owners who warned Maryland policymakers of the risk fracking posed to the state’s thriving tourism and sustainable agriculture sectors. In addition, a 2015 poll found that a majority of Marylanders support a long-term moratorium on fracking. Local communities have used zoning laws to enact bans, including Mountain Lake Park and Friendsville in Garrett County, Prince George’s, Montgomery and Charles County. Other local ban efforts are underway.
What You Can Do
Waterkeepers Chesapeake and the Coalition need your support and your voices to fight fracking in Maryland. Send an email today by clicking on the Take Action button (on the right). Our message to the next General Assembly must be loud and clear – fracking endangers public health and our environment, and has no place in Maryland. We support a robust Maryland economy built on a clean environment and sustainable energy resources.
SAVE THE DATE: March 2 -- March & Rally to Ban Fracking Now! - 1:00pm Lawyers Mall, Annapolis.
To join our campaign, sign up for our email list (on home page) and follow us on Facebook. Watch for action alerts and attend events. Push for local bans and resolutions that support a state-wide ban. Never forget that a strong grassroots movement can win this fight! We have seen it succeed in New York, where the collective actions of thousands of people led Governor Cuomo to ban fracking permanently. Visit www.DontFrackMD.org and follow Don’t Frack Maryland on Facebook and #DontFrackMD on Tweeter to learn more and get involved!