Chesapeake PSR

A ban on fracking in Maryland is the only rational policy option

Fracking in MarylandLydia SullivanComment

On February 9, Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo introduced his Maryland house bill to ban fracking in Maryland, HB 1325, a companion bill to Sen. Bobby Zirkin's senate fracking ban bill, SB 740. Chesapeake PSR board member Gina Angiola, MD, made a statement on the mounting case for a fracking ban because of negative health effects linked to hydraulic fracturing or fracking:

There are now over 900 peer-reviewed publications on the impacts of unconventional gas development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, often called “fracking.”  These impacts include damage to water and air quality, climate, seismicity, and human and animal health. Of the studies looking specifically at human health impacts, the vast majority are showing risks or actual harms. For example, the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health has released several studies in just the past two years – AFTER the fracking moratorium legislation was passed in 2015. In these studies, researchers have shown clear associations between proximity to active fracking operations and illnesses, including premature births, high-risk pregnancies, asthma attacks, migraines, and other disorders.

What these studies demonstrate goes beyond the specific illnesses mentioned. These are short-latency effects, meaning these are the types of illnesses that show up within a short period of time after exposures to toxic substances or other stressors. There are over 1,000 different chemicals used or emitted at various stages of the gas development process… many are known to be carcinogenic, neurotoxic, or endocrine-disrupting. For this reason, it’s highly likely that many other illnesses will be showing up in years to come in areas where fracking is currently taking place.

Dr. Angiola also spoke about the now-known risks of fracking and how statewide infrastructure could pose health and environmental risks to Maryland residents for many years:

Back in 2013 when the best management practices were developed for Maryland, almost none of the information we now have was even available. What we now know is that the various processes required to extract, produce, and transport the gas all contribute to the public health risks. This IS a statewide issue. We know that leakage and emissions from wells, pipelines, compressor stations, and storage facilities WILL happen at all stages of operation, and increasingly over time as materials and infrastructure age. We also know that earthquakes result both from storage of fracking wastewater and from fracking itself.  No regulations can solve what industry can’t fix. And no one – not government nor industry – will be monitoring this infrastructure over its lifetime. Current and future generations are depending on us to make sound decisions – a ban is truly the only rational policy option for Maryland.

Dr. Angiola is the principal author on two Chesapeake PSR health and energy briefs on fracking, The Health Effects of Fracking and Fracking Regulations Cannot Protect Maryland. Watch video of the bill introduction, and read about two competing fracking bills in the Maryland senate.

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