They say it needs to be studied before it's allowed in Maryland.
Three Maryland legislators are on board with an effort to put a moratorium on fracking in the state. Senators Brian Frosh and Jaime Raskin are joining Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur in supporting a bill to prohibit this process in Maryland until an "independent, scientific, well-done" study can determine if it’s safe.
"Second chances are really expensive. And we’ve got to get this done right the first time in Maryland," says Mizeur.
"Fracking has many pitfalls, and we’ve seen the dire consequences in other states. When done wrong, it has the potential to inflict serious harm on our natural resources, and on the health of the people living in the surrounding area," says Senator Frosh in a statement.
"It's clearly time for the EPA to close this loophole and hold the oil and gas industry responsibile to the same standards of transparency and disclosure as other industries that produce chemical toxins," says State Senator Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County.
The three lawmakers made their pledge on Wednesday, October 24th, when environmental groups petitioned the EPA to require toxic chemical release reporting for the oil and gas industry. It’s already required for the coal mining industry.
Hydraulic fracking is the drilling into underground rock formations using water, chemicals and sand to extract oil and natural gas.
Opponents say it causes problems for communities who live near fracking operations. "Flammable tap water, mini-earthquakes, fish kills, and livestock needing to be quarantined," says Delegate Mizeur. "There are a range of public health and environmental impacts that come from this activity that we want not to see happen in Maryland."
Supporters of the process say it would lessen US dependence on foreign oil, and create jobs. Mizeur says right now, the negatives outweigh the positives. "It’s unacceptable tradeoffs right now to say the only way to go down there and get it is if we want to take a risk of being able to light our tap water on fire, and the seismic activities that comes along with the mini-earthquakes that we see in Ohio," she says.
Mizeur also says that the jobs that fracking creates are filled by workers from Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma who are oil drilling experts brought into areas where fracking is taking place, and there are very few if any jobs for the local population.
There is no fracking taking place in Maryland at this time, but environmental activists say these industries are interested in Garrett and Allegheny Counties, and could possibly be willing to drill in Frederick County.
Even though Senators Frosh and Raskin, and Delegate Mizeur are from Montgomery County, Mizeur says they are in contact with activists in Western Maryland. "I first wrote about my concerns about the potential threat in an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun in 2010. And was promptly contacted by a group of 30 citizen activities in Western Maryland, in Garrett County and Allegheny County," she says.
Delegate Mizeur introduced a bill during the 2012 General Assembly to put a moratorium on fracking. It passed the House of Delegates, but it stalled in the State Senate. "We anticipate, with the growth in the grass roots movement and the number of environmentalists, consumer protection groups and public health advocates who are engaging on this this year, that we’re going to put the right campaign together to help push this through the Senate this year," says Mizeur.