Government and Politics Top Stories

Maryland Considering Ban on Fracking

Modern urban wastewater treatment plant
Every industry generates waste, whether it’s in the form of paperboards, food scraps, plastics, medical waste, or something else. In fact, studies have found that the U.S. produces one-quarter of the world’s waste, despite only having about less than 5% of the world’s population. The nation accumulates at least 236 million tons of municipal waste per year, much of it perfectly safe. Some industries, though, generate hazardous waste, such as the medical industry, the waste of which is 15% hazardous.

It’s fracking, however, whose wastewater is purported to be too dangerous to allow.

Over 100 businesses in western Maryland are pushing for legislature that would put an eight-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration via hydraulic fracturing or even ban it outright, as the practice is simply too hazardous. However, Governor Larry Hogan believes that fracking should be allowed if it’s regulated properly, and as the Baltimore Sunreports, the Maryland Environmental Department is considering some regulations that would allow fracking in the state.

On March 11, dozens of businesses in the state signed a letter in support of the fracking moratorium, which argued that there’s “no evidence” that fracking can be effectively regulated.

“Fracking should be allowed by law in Maryland only if the technology is shown to be safe,” read the letter. “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.”

Fracking involves blasting large volumes of highly pressurized water, sand, and other chemicals into layers of rock to free up oil and gas. Once used, toxic fracking wastewater is then either stored in deep underground wells, disposed of in open pits where it can evaporate, or even re-used.

According to the Food and Water Watch advocacy group, 96% of the studies that delve into the health consequences of fracking since 2013 have “found risks of adverse health outcomes.” The Institute for Applied Environmental Health also found that there was a “high” or “moderately high” potential for a negative health impact.

“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,” read a new report from the Environmental Working Group.

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