In Western Maryland, over a quarter of land in Garrett County has been leased to polluters using a new technique called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", which been blamed in other states for polluting streams and tainting wells, even resulting in flammable tap water.
It is vital that we stop these companies from pursuing reckless, environmentally and socially destructive gas drilling in Maryland: Chief Oil & Gas has already been charged with 198 environmental and safety violations at 83 wells in Pennsylvania. Another company leasing land in Maryland, Samson, has been cited for 12 offenses on just two wells. As these companies inch closer to having their permits approved, Maryland remains unprepared to handle the natural gas industry boom that will surely come to the state.
In the 2011 Maryland General Assembly, a bill entitled Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Act of 2011 was introduced for the purpose of prohibiting the Department of the Environment from issuing well drilling permits for certain drilling activities involving the hydraulic fracturing of natural gas-bearing shale formations until a two year safety study on Fracking is carried out and certain conditions/criteria are met by the gas companies.
Unfortunately while the bill sailed through the House of Delegates it died in the Senate. Nevertheless the O'Malley administration is likely to take action to ensure that the goals of the legislation - to conduct thorough 2 year saftey studies - are met before any drilling permits could be issued. Please take a moment to sign the petition to Governor O'Malley and the Maryland Department of the Environment.
Already communities in states such as Pennsylvania have suffered the consequences of reckless drilling, from contaminated ground water to well explosions, and companies currently seeking drilling permits in Maryland have been repeatedly cited for environmental and safety violations. Moreover, a recent study by Cornell University showing that fracking may be up to 20% more harmful for the climate than burning coal makes caution on this procedure all the more important.
Please ensure that natural gas drilling in Maryland occurs in a manner that is safe and carefully regulated in order to protect all stakeholders – including the environment. Until drilling is shown to be consistent with the environmental goals of the state and promoting environmental and public health, permits should not be issued.