Frack­ing threat­ens our lives, com­mu­ni­ties, en­vi­ron­ment

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

State leg­is­la­tors need to stop frack­ing in Maryland be­fore it starts.

In Septem­ber, the Ho­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion re­leased reg­ula- tions to al­low frack­ing in 2017 when a two-year mora­to­rium ex­pires. A state-wide coali­tion of over 100 groups ad­vo­cated this mora­to­rium.

Sup­port for a per­ma­nent ban also comes from all over the state, and in­cludes a wide va­ri­ety of cit­i­zen net­works. Mont­gomery and Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ties, which to­gether rep­re­sent more than a third of the state’s pop­u­la­tion, have ef­fec­tively banned frack­ing. Polls show that more than half of Mary­lan­ders are frack­ing op­po­nents.

Frack­ing is a drilling tech­nique where highly pres­sur­ized wa­ter is in­jected into rock for­ma­tions deep un­der­ground, caus­ing them to break. Once the for­ma­tion breaks, oil and nat­u­ral gas are ex­tracted for sale. The cur­rent frack­ing boom re­flects the re­cent de­vel- op­ment of hor­i­zon­tal drilling, which al­lows en­try to oth­er­wise in­ac­ces­si­ble for­ma­tions.

Why op­pose frack­ing? Be­cause frack­ing poi­sons the air we breathe, the wa­ter we drink, the cli­mate we de­pend on and the com­mu­ni­ties where we live.

The frack­ing process re­leases air con­tam­i­nants known to cause ill­nesses, birth de­fects and death.

Frack­ing uses vast amounts of lo­cal wa­ter and pol­lutes the wa­ter that re­mains.

Frack­ing re­sults in the emis­sion of gases that worsen cli­mate change. Frack­ing re­duces prop­erty val­ues, harms tourism, in­dus­tri­al­izes pris­tine ru­ral ar­eas and sub­jects com­mu­ni­ties to boom-or-bust economies. Hun­dreds of peer-re­viewed stud­ies con­firm these dan­gers. It is im­pos­si­ble to make frack­ing safe. It must be banned.

And it must be banned through­out the state. Frack­ing is not a prob­lem lim­ited to western Maryland. Gas de­posits ex­ist in more than half the coun­ties in the state. Le­gal­ized frack­ing would al­low oil and gas com­pa­nies to turn sub­stan­tial ar­eas of our state into en­vi­ron­men­tal sac­ri­fice zones.

Gov. Ho­gan’s pro­mo­tion of frack­ing threat­ens the wel­fare of Maryland and its peo­ple. It is also a lost op­por­tu­nity for lead­er­ship. Com­mu­ni­ties and their lead­ers around the world are turn­ing away from dan­ger­ous fos­sil fu­els in fa­vor of safe, sus­tain­able en­ergy sources. Maryland de­serves lead­er­ship of this sort.

When he be­came gov­er­nor, Larry Ho­gan im­posed on Maryland “We’re Open for Busi­ness” as the of­fi­cial state greet­ing. The Bal­ti­more Sun rightly de­nounced this slo­gan as “cheesy.” But it’s an omi­nous slo­gan as well, so long as he wants to wel­come busi­nesses that threaten our lives and our en­vi­ron­ment.

The Rev. Charles Hof­facker, Brandy­wine

The writer is the rec­tor of St. Paul’s Parish, Baden.

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