Annapolis, MD – Today, 37 local, regional, and national nonprofit organizations around the Chesapeake Bay watershed submitted a joint letter to Governor Hogan and select legislators to show their support for state legislation (SB740 and HB1325) to stop hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” from beginning in Maryland. The letter to the governor cited multiple concerns around fracking, including the growing body of research that demonstrates significant risks to human health and to the environment.
The Western Maryland counties of Washington, Allegany, and Garrett make up just one of the areas where fracking could take place. This region also supplies the majority of the water that flows into the Potomac River and eventually provides hundreds of thousands of residents with drinking water. The District of Columbia receives 100 percent of its drinking water from the Potomac River, and if it was ever contaminated by fracking wastewater or other sources, the nation’s capital would be limited to a two-day water supply.
“Part of the problem comes from the type of rock formations that hold the waters beneath the surface of Western Maryland,” said Dr. Ann Bristow, president of the Savage River Watershed Association and commissioner on Governor O’Malley’s Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative. “These uncontained, fractured aquifers allow many pathways for the flow of toxic drilling chemicals into drinking water sources. There is also no ability to contain an underground contamination event.”
In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that fracking can contaminate drinking water through leaks, spills, and improper disposal of fracking chemicals or other wastes. While natural gas drilling proponents point to strong regulations to prevent such issues from occurring, environmental groups question the ability of current practices to actually prevent leaking.
“The Governor promised us ‘gold standard’ regulations, but what the Department presented actually weakened critical health and environmental protections from earlier proposed regulations”, said Karla Raettig, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “In addition, we have little confidence that the regulations will be enforced because of the reduced capacity of the state regulators over the last fifteen years. Allowing such a high-risk, low-rewards program to begin in the most pristine area of the State would be irresponsible.”
In addition to this letter, advocates from the group Don’t Frack Maryland are also delivering over 35,000 petition signatures and 200+ business endorsements to state legislators to voice their support for the ban on fracking. They have also planned a “March on Annapolis to Ban Fracking” that will take place on March 2 at 1PM.
Alliance for Sustainable Communities
Audubon Naturalist Society
Blue Water Baltimore
Butternut Valley Alliance
Cecil Land Use Association
Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage
Corsica River Conservancy
Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth
Earth Forum of Howard County
Friends of Frederick County
Friends of the Bohemia
Friends of the Middle River
Friends of the Rappahannock
Goose Creek Association
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
Laurel Mountain Preservation Association
Little Falls Watershed Alliance
Maryland Conservation Council
Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Maryland Pesticide Education Network
Montgomery Countryside Alliance
Pennsylvania Council and Churches
Potomac Riverkeeper Network
Savage River Watershed Association
Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council
Upper Potomac Riverkeeper
West Virginia Environmental Council
The organizations listed in this press release are members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, an organization that harnesses the collective power of more than 226 groups to advocate for clean rivers and streams in all communities in the Chesapeake region. This letter does not represent the views of all members of the Coaltion, only the undersigned.