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Del. Shane Robinson and Sen. Karen Montgomery Introduce Statewide Ban on Fracking
Annapolis, MD - January 24 - Today, Delegate Shane Robinson (D-39) introduced new legislation in Maryland’s House of Delegates that would institute a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Consumer advocates Food & Water Watch, part of a coalition of 22 environmental groups who co-signed a letter to Governor Martin O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly supporting a ban, has worked closely with Del. Robinson and Sen. Karen Montgomery on the ban bill’s development. The legislation, which will be cross-filed by Sen. Montgomery next week, is being introduced on behalf of Marylanders who believe that fracking is inherently unsafe.
Fracking is now a legitimate concern for all Marylanders. A recent U.S. Geological Survey report outlined additional gas basins, potential targets for expansion of the oil and gas industry into central and southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore — all part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed — in addition to two western counties. Advocates of the bill say a moratorium and additional studies will not make fracking safe in Maryland.
“Maryland should not invest taxpayer money into funding studies about fracking — those resources should instead be put towards renewable energy,” said Maryland Del. Shane Robinson. “We need not look further than our neighbors in Pennsylvania to see the kind of destruction fracking is capable of bringing to our residents and our environment. The only way to truly protect Maryland from the risks associated with fracking is to ban it throughout the state, and I plan to work with my colleagues in the Legislature to make that happen.”
“Fracking is touted as a moneymaker for Maryland,” said Senator Karen Montgomery. “What is not counted in the equation are the severe environmental problems not addressed, including groundwater contamination by unknown contaminants and the inability to safely dispose of used and contaminated fracking wastewater.”
“We commend Del. Robinson and Sen. Montgomery for introducing legislation that would actually protect Maryland against the inherent dangers of fracking,” said Mitch Jones, director of the Common Resources Program for Food & Water Watch. “The oil and gas industry could turn Maryland into a sacrifice zone for a few years’ worth of shale gas. As we’ve seen in other states, and in Washington, energy companies have successfully lobbied to receive exemptions from regulations such as the Safe Drinking Water Act, which means they don’t have to disclose chemicals used in the fracking process to state regulators and the public. We can’t rely on a flawed regulatory regime to protect our water and the health of our families. This bill puts public and environmental health before industry profits.”
“The case against fracking is compelling based on its damage to the environment and our health alone,” said Megan Cronin, Clean Water Advocate at Environment Maryland. “But, fracking’s negative impacts on our environment and health come with heavy “dollars and cents” costs as well. From increased demand for public services to renewing and replacing public infrastructure, from the public health costs due to air and water pollution to the depletion of natural resources, the costs of fracking are too high. Maryland needs to ban fracking now, before it’s too late.”
Fracking is the dangerous and controversial method of injecting water, sand and chemicals underground at extremely high pressures to break up rock formations, allowing oil or gas to flow more easily into a well. Drilling and fracking have resulted in widespread cases of water contamination and local air pollution problems across the country. Disposal of the massive amounts of fracking wastewater from each new well poses problems as well. Health professionals across the country have voiced concern about the potential health effects on communities where drilling and fracking is occurring and highlighted the lack of cumulative health impact assessments.
The 22 groups who support a ban on fracking include ARK Church, Centre for Wellness, Baltimore Green Forum, Spirit and Nature Group Gunpowder Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Centennial Caroline Street United Methodist Church, Climate Change Initiative of Howard County, Community Research, Crossroads Community Food Network, East Baltimore Community Corporation, Inc., Energy Justice Network, Environment Maryland, Food & Water Watch, Greenbelt Climate Action Network, Maryland PIRG, McElderry Park Community Association, Montgomery Countryside Alliance, Assateague Coastkeeper, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, Patuxent Riverkeeper, Potomac Riverkeeper, Severn Riverkeeper, Young Democrats of Harford County, and Young Democrats of Montgomery County.