Written by Katlyn Clark of Waterkeepers Chesapeake.
For the past few years, Waterkeepers Chesapeake has worked to prevent horizontal hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from coming to the state of Maryland. We had a short-lived victory when a 2-year moratorium law passed in the beginning of 2015 – but that law will expire in October 2017, meaning that fracking could start to negatively impact our water, air and health in just a few months. While Garrett and Allegany counties would be immediately and disproportionately burdened if fracking proceeds, the long-term impacts would be felt across Maryland.
We can look at the track record in other states to see that no state has developed and enforced regulations that would be protective enough of the environment and public health to allow fracking. Mounting evidence demonstrates that the fracking industry has a long history of noncompliance and violations of regulations and permits. Even compliance with purportedly strong regulations has caused irreversible harm.
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. Wells will leak and regulators cannot solve inherent problems with the process that industry cannot fix. Once contaminated, we have lost that source of clean water forever.
During the fall of 2016, the Maryland Department of the Environment released regulations in anticipation of the moratorium being lifted this fall. We worked with the Georgetown Law Clinic to submit comments on these regulations – pointing out the many weak areas including lack of protections for groundwater (inadequacy of well pad liners and construction), inadequate baseline water quality monitoring, inadequate setbacks, lack of consideration for surface water impacts to aquatic habitat and shoddy waste disposal provisions. Krissy Kasserman, the Youghigheny Riverkeeper, and Brent Walls, the Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, came out to testify in strong opposition to these regulations – advocating for their local waterways and highlighting the dangers that the fracking process poses for our ground water, surface water and drinking water.
For the past year and a half, Waterkeepers Chesapeake worked closely with the Don’t Frack Maryland coalition to build up grassroots momentum across the state for a fracking ban. The coalition now has over 140 public interest organizations, labor groups, businesses, and faith communities committed to passing a permanent statewide fracking ban in Maryland. In addition to hosting movie screenings and events, ten cities and counties across the state have either passed a jurisdiction-wide ban or have passed a resolution supporting a statewide fracking ban. Hundreds of health care professionals, businesses and local elected officials have also signed on in support of a ban.
On March 2nd, Waterkeepers Chesapeake will join hundreds of Marylanders across the state in a March on Annapolis to Ban Fracking Now! We’re marching on Annapolis with one clear demand: ban fracking now. We want to show legislators just how powerful our movement is. Buses will be organized across the state; click here to reserve your seat on the bus nearest to you!
This session, Maryland State Senator Bobby Zirkin and Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo have introduced a statewide fracking ban (SB740 / HB1325). Statewide polls show majority of Marylanders want a fracking ban – the time is now for the Maryland General Assembly to pass a permanent statewide ban on fracking.
Join us today to demand a ban on fracking to protect our water, air and people.