Maryland should extend fracking moratorium

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A hydraulic fracturing well. Source: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com.

A hydraulic fracturing well. Source: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com.

The debate over hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) is intensifying in Maryland. Lawmakers here must soon decide whether to emulate New York State, which has banned fracking due to health concerns, or Pennsylvania, where thousands of fracking wells litter the landscape. Their choice will have long-lasting implications for residents of Western Maryland.

Local business groups tout the economic benefits of this method of natural gas extraction. Yet their arguments ignore fracking’s potentially huge environmental costs. Fracking pollutes air, water, and soil. Millions of gallons of dirty water, laced with hundreds of unknown chemicals, are injected into each well. Diesel exhaust, fugitive gas emissions, volatile organic compounds, noise. These are only some of the contaminants that fracking inflicts on surrounding communities. Although scientists have not had enough time to fully study fracking’s effects, there is mounting evidence that fracking is associated with human health problems such as birth defects.

Recently the Maryland Senate introduced the Protect Our Health and Communities Act. This important bill would extend the state’s current fracking moratorium for an additional eight years. Delaying fracking for eight more years is a win-win proposition for Maryland. Eight years may be enough time for scientists to demonstrate conclusively that fracking effects human health in neighboring states. Alternatively, if fracking turns out to be harmless, Western Maryland can still exploit its natural gas reserves in 2023 when the moratorium expires. That’s why many Maryland environmental researchers and medical professionals support this proposed legislation. I also support the bill, and so should you.

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2 Responses to “Maryland should extend fracking moratorium”

  1. kelsdcannon Says:

    I’m not a proponent of hydraulic fracturing for the environmental consequences that you’ve mentioned in your post. Generally, I agree with the Protect Our Health and Communities Act that you’ve explained here. However, in the interest of playing the devil’s advocate, I have several questions related to the need for this legislation in Maryland.

    In proposing the choice that Maryland legislators have to make between emulating New York (which banned fracking outright) or Pennsylvania (which allowed uninhibited use of fracking) – are you polarizing the issue to extremes in order to support your stance on the bill? Why are the only legitimate choices coming from one of these two options? Couldn’t Maryland find it’s own happy medium where they pass a moratorium for a conservative cap on the amount of fracking wells that are able to be drilled in the state instead of taking the extreme option and banning it for eight years? This would allow the state to benefit from the very real revenue fracking brings while protecting to a sufficient degree Maryland’s environment and it’s populations health until such time that scientists can better conclude that fracking causes adverse health effects in humans.

  2. asalehsbfphc Says:

    Interesting topic. And I totally support the bill as well. This got me thinking of a conversation we had during our environmental class in the summer over how fracking in North Dakota led to other outcomes that we don’t usually think of, such as damaging state roads and increasing traffic accidents. These are mainly due to the hundreds of truck trips needed to operate tracking wells.

    Also, fracking will never be sufficient to enough to satisfy our energy needs. The oil industry is governed by the supply-demand equation which is affected by so many factors. The real answer to energy independence is investing in clean-energy sources. Which hopefully will become a thing before 2023!

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