Tuesday 19 June 2018

Waterkeepers Chesapeake Asks MDE to Take Closer Look at Polluted Rivers in Maryland

Comments Issued on 2016 Report of Surface Water Quality  

Waterkeepers Chesapeake, along with nine independent Riverkeeper organizations, asked the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to look at a number of river and stream segments in the state to assess and quantify the level of pollution associated with each waterway. Each of the rivers and streams included in the MDE report, “Maryland’s Draft 2016 Integrated Report of Surface Water Quality” had previously been isolated as needing coverage under the Bay TMDL, or Total Maximum Daily Load, the so-called “pollution diet,” a blueprint for cleaning the Chesapeake Bay.

In previous years, some of the segments were listed as Category 5, the most impaired waterways. Under provisions of the Clean Water Act, these river and streams should have been assigned a TMDL for cleanup. The list includes Miles River, Jones Falls, Gwynns Falls, Gunpowder River, Chester River, Potomac River, Susquehanna River, West River, Pocomoke River, Wicomico River, Choptank River, Middle River, Back River, Patapsco River, Baltimore Harbor, Magothy River, Severn River, South River, West River, Patuxent River, St. Mary’s River, Mattawoman Creek, Piscataway Creek, Anacostia River, Monocacy River, Youghiogheny River and a few others. 

In addition, MDE has not followed up on river segments listed as Category 3 (insufficient information on water quality standards) and Category 4 (impaired or threatened).

Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake, said “we need to know that MDE is taking the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay seriously. Some of these rivers serve residents as the source of drinking water, while nearly all flow into the Bay. Impairment of any stream segment is a serious threat to clean water.”  

For more information or to receive copies of the comments, contact Mitchelle Stephenson, Waterkeepers Chesapeake (Mitchelle *at* WaterkeepersChesapeake.org).

We need your help! The current moratorium on fracking will expire October 2017. The time is now to pass a ban on fracking during the 2017 Maryland legislative session.

Send an email today to demand a ban on fracking to protect our water, air and people.

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.

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.

Send an email today to demand a ban on fracking!

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

Sustainable jobs from tourism and agriculture, as well as from future economic development and green jobs, could be lost due to the industrialization that accompanies drilling and fracking. While the oil and gas industry seeks to profit from selling Maryland's gas, we would be the ones left with the legacy of pollution.

Governor Hogan and the gas industry want to start fracking as soon as the current two-year moratorium expires. If the industry succeeds, generations of Marylanders would pay the environmental and public health costs.

Our current two-year moratorium was a great start, but we need a statewide fracking ban to safeguard Maryland's long-term future. Please send an email to support a ban on fracking to protect the health and environment of Maryland residents.


Join us on March 2nd for the March on Annapolis to Ban Fracking Now! RSVP & sign up for bus ride here!

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Waterkeepers Chesapeake Calls on MDE to Prohibit Fracking in Maryland

The EPA has reversed it’s earlier conclusion of it’s 5-year fracking study and now concludes that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances and identifies factors that influence these impacts.

The report identified several vulnerabilities to drinking water resources, including water withdrawals for fracking in drought-stricken areas; inadequately cased or cemented wells resulting in below-ground migration of gases and liquids; inadequately treated wastewater discharged into drinking water resources; and spills of hydraulic fluids and wastewater.

The EPA removed the “widespread, systemic” language because it “could not be supported due to data gaps and uncertainties” and “did not clearly communicate the topline finding of the report.” The EPA had inserted the earlier statement about “no widespread systemic” contamination under pressure from the oil and gas industry.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake issued this statement:

“We applaud the EPA for basing the conclusion of their 5 year study on science, instead of oil and gas industry spin. The EPA now concludes what we have known all along: our drinking water sources have been contaminated with toxic compounds from fracking activities.

This conclusion would not have happened without all of the public feedback and participation on the report, especially from the impacted people from across the country who shared their stories with the Science Advisory Board. This highlights the increased need for citizen engagement and enforcement to hold regulators and polluters accountable.

In our recent comments on Maryland’s draft fracking regulations, we called on the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to prohibit fracking. Under state law, MDE has an obligation to protect public health and the environment. By adopting the proposed regulations despite increasing scientific evidence documenting the risk fracking presents to public health and the environment, MDE will fail to meet this legal obligation.

EPA’s conclusion along with mounting evidence from other states demonstrates that no amount of regulation is capable of preventing harm from fracking. Thus, the only way MDE can fulfill its legal obligation to keep its citizens safe and to protect the State’s environment is to prohibit fracking in Maryland.”

For more information on the campaign to ban fracking in Maryland, go to www.DontFrackMD.org