Engage Mountain Maryland officially endorses Senate Bill 740, prohibiting fracking in Maryland and its companion House Bill 1325. EMM has determined that hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is neither a safe, or responsible choice for Western Maryland where drilling would occur first.
Fracking is a controversial method of gas extraction from the shale layer thousands of feet below ground. Unlike conventional drilling, the modern technique involves high pressure, hundreds of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, and silica sand to horizontally drill thousands of feet out from a well pad. The combination of dangerous and hazardous chemicals with an equally dangerous, environmentally invasive drilling technique, has presented countless problems in other states not limited to the well pad. Expansive, sprawling infrastructure strips the landscape in its path while posing wide-spread risk of leaks, spills, and explosions.
This decision to support a fracking ban is not without validation. EMM had asked for other measures and assurances on the fracking issue.
1. A request for an economic feasibility study was stalled by local government and ultimately abandoned by them.
2. EMM supported a fracking liability bill that would hold drilling companies liable should personal harm or property damages result from industrial practices. The bill failed to pass out of the Maryland legislature.
3. Additionally, EMM drafted a fifty-page document citing many shortcomings in The Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) proposed fracking regulations. These regulations have since been placed on hold and deemed as insufficient by the Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review Committee, acting as the Maryland General Assembly’s oversight committee.
With all of these failings, and a lack of state examination, Maryland would be negligent to allow fracking to occur. Heavily fracked states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio have provided plenty of warnings for Maryland to ban the industry.
EMM hosted two field trips to see first-hand what environmental devastation accompanies fracking, and the unimpressive economic benefits to the towns it invades. There is no evidence that unconventional gas drilling can be done in a safe manner, yet there is ample evidence to the contrary. Additionally, there is no substantiation that extracting natural gas in Western Maryland will provide significant employment opportunities. Garrett County could experience a net-loss by calculating in disrupted tourism revenue and declining real estate values. These are uncertain and irresponsible gambles.
A consistent message from our membership has been to request a ban on fracking. Informal and scientific surveys show an overwhelming majority oppose gas drilling. Collectively, as advocates for over 1,500 individuals and businesses, we fully support ban legislation, and recommend Maryland put this issue to rest. Fracking is not something the state needs, wants, or should be willing to risk. It’s time for Western Maryland to move past discussing the potential problems with fracking and begin discussion of economic solutions that make sense to grow and further develop our vibrant rural communities.