100+ Maryland businesses call for fracking moratorium

Reuters / Andrew Cullen

Reuters / Andrew Cullen

More than 100 businesses in western Maryland have come out in support of a bill that would establish a moratorium on oil and gas exploration via hydraulic fracturing, citing concerns over pollution, health and tourism consequences.

Lawmakers in Maryland
are currently considering bills that would either place an
eight-year moratorium on fracking or ban the practice completely,
much like New York did late last year.

However, state Gov. Larry Hogan believes the time is right to
allow the practice – which involves blasting highly pressurized
water, sand and other chemicals into layers of rock to free up
oil and gas – as long as strict regulations are in place.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the Maryland Environmental
Department is considering regulations that would pave the way for
fracking to begin in the state.

READ MORE: Fracking wastewater in California full
of harmful, cancerous chemicals – report

On Wednesday, dozens of
Maryland businesses signed onto a letter supporting a fracking
moratorium. The group descended onto Annapolis to deliver the
letter, local news outlet WBAL reported.

In the letter, the business owners say there
is “no evidence” that fracking can be effectively

“Fracking should be allowed by law in Maryland only if the
technology is shown to be safe,”
the letter reads.
“Until that time, gas-drilling poses unacceptable risks to
the health of our families, neighbors, employees, visitors, and
environment. If allowed, we fear it will undermine a Deep Creek
Lake-area economy in which tourism historically has figured
prominently – and dominated it for a generation.”

The letter adds that tourism is extremely important to the state
– two-thirds of the tax base and more than 50 percent of jobs are
traced back to the industry – and it could be severely damaged if
fracking is permitted.

“We say no to water contamination, no to urban-style air
pollution in our valleys, no to the perpetual truck traffic that
will spell the end of our tourism industry and yes – resoundingly
yes – to fracking moratorium legislation,”
said Paul Roberts, co-proprietor of the Deep
Creek Cellars winery.

READ MORE: New York state bans fracking for
natural gas

In a recent state poll, 59 percent of respondents said
natural gas drilling poses risks to Maryland’s water supply. And
although shy of a majority, 45 percent said they are opposed to
fracking. Thirty-nine percent supported it.

Meanwhile, the Food and Water Watch advocacy group stated that
about 96 percent of the studies that delve into the health
consequences of fracking since 2013 “found risks of adverse
health outcomes.”
Maryland’s Institute for Applied
Environmental Health also found that, generally, the potential
for negative public health impacts was “high” or
“moderately high.”

On Thursday, a new report from California, conducted by
the Environmental Working Group, also shed light on what exactly
can be found inside the wastewater produced by fracking.

“More than a dozen hazardous chemicals and metals as well as
radiation were detected in the wastewater, some at average levels
that are hundreds or thousands of times higher than the state’s
drinking water standards or public health goals,”
the group

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