In neighboring states and across the nation, evidence is mounting that drilling and fracking for natural gas leads to polluted air and water, serious health problems, earthquakes and economic losses for local communities.
In Maryland, a growing grassroots movement has kept fracking at bay — for now. In the 2015 Maryland General Assembly, CCAN worked with over 100 groups in the Don’t Frack Maryland Coalition to put a 2.5 year moratorium on fracking. Thanks to thousands of email and calls, lobby, meetings, actions and more, Governor Larry Hogan let HB 449 become law on May 29th, 2015. This bill puts a hold on drilling in Maryland until October 2017.
But the gas industry is already maneuvering to put fracking on the fast-track as soon as the moratorium lifts. Our mission now is to build an even more powerful grassroots movement to put a permanent, statewide ban on fracking by October 2017.
Download the CCAN fracking activist toolkit: Get your city to endorse a ban on fracking.
Join the movement to ban fracking in Maryland: Email Brooke Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer.
The Fracking Threat in Maryland
The science shows that fracking threatens the air we breathe and the water we drink, while also worsening climate change.
Maryland’s Garrett and Allegany Counties sit atop the Marcellus Shale gas basin and are on the front lines of potential fracking in the state. But the threat is statewide. Across Maryland, five different gas basins stretch underneath our communities and could potentially be fracked by the gas industry. For instance, the Taylorsville gas basin stretches under one-third of Prince George’s County. A Texas-based company has already leased land to frack for gas in the Virginia portion of this same basin.
In 2011, Governor O’Malley issued a temporary, three-year executive order that put a hold on drilling permits in Maryland and created a commission to assess whether or not fracking poses unacceptable risks to Marylanders. The resulting studies warned of many significant risks — especially to our health — if fracking is allowed to proceed.
A long-term hold on drilling in Maryland is not only the right choice — it’s what the Maryland public wants.
- The latest Washington Post poll found 56 percent of Maryland voters oppose fracking.
- A February 2015 OpinionWorks poll found that 68 percent of voters want the General Assembly to put either an outright ban or a long-term moratorium on fracking.
- A recent Goucher poll found that 59 percent agree natural gas drilling in Maryland poses a major risk to the state’s water resources and 60 percent agree the gas industry benefits from natural gas extraction at the expense of local communities and citizens.
The Facts on Fracking
Fracking is a dangerous drilling method used to extract natural gas from shale rock. It involves drilling “L”-shaped pipelines deep underground and pumping a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals through them at high pressures to crack apart the rock and release gas packed within. (The chemicals used in fracking include benzene, xylene and toluene, all of which are known carcinogens.) Significant volumes of fracking fluid come back up to the surface loaded with heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and radioactive materials. This hazardous wastewater poses an enormous disposal challenge and the toxic chemicals in fracking fluid threaten to leach into our drinking water. The industrial well pads, machinery and truck traffic that come along with the drilling process disrupt rural towns, straining infrastructure, clogging roads, and adding to noise and air pollution.
The evidence is mounting showing fracking is dangerous to our health. Especially concerning, researchers are finding associations between proximity to oil and gas development and increases in birth defects and other adverse birth outcomes. Because some effects may take years to show up, the nature and the severity of the long-term, cumulative health impacts of fracking and drilling are still unknown.
Fracking is a statewide threat in Maryland. The Marcellus Shale is probably the best known gas basin in the nation. It’s an enormous underground rock formation that spans areas from New York to Virginia, including Maryland’s Garrett and Allegany counties. But that’s not all: Maryland sits atop not one, but five gas basins that the natural gas industry could frack.
Over 70 groups (and counting) in Maryland have added their names to a position statement calling for a ban on fracking – from climate groups like CCAN, to river keepers, outfitters, service unions, public interest organizations, health groups, farmers and faith groups.
And local opposition to fracking is growing. Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, which together represent over a third of Maryland’s population, have effectively banned fracking. And several cities across Maryland are considering resolutions in favor of a permanent, statewide ban.
Help secure your city’s or your county’s support for a ban: Download the CCAN Fracking Ban Activist Toolkit!
Write a letter to your local newspaper in support of a ban: Email Brooke Harper at email@example.com for suggested talking points.
Sign the petition: Add your name to the call for a permanent ban on fracking in Maryland!
- CCAN Statewide Fracking Ban Factsheet
- Thank you Prince George’s County for banning fracking! The movement against fracking in Maryland is growing. CCAN Blog. 4/12/2016.
- Maryland’s Prince George’s County Approves Ban on Fracking. CCAN Press Release. 4/12/2016.
- One step closer to keeping fracking out of Prince George’s County! CCAN Blog. 2/17/2016.
- Go to the “Don’t Frack Maryland” campaign page for updates about the coalition of over 70 groups working to pass a permanent, statewide ban on fracking.
- Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Birth Outcomes in Pennsylvania, USA. Wolters Kluwer Health. 9/30/2015.
- Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking. Physicians for Social Responsibility. 10/14/2015.
- Fact sheet: U.S. Methane Leakage from Natural Gas Systems: Academic Literature from 2014 and 2015.
- See the Feb. 2015 OpinionWorks poll and infographic showing 68 percent of Marylanders want the General Assembly to put a hold on fracking.
- The Risks to Maryland: Read the summary of an independent analysis showing fracking poses high risks to Maryland.
- Read the full Shale Gas Risk Assessment for Maryland (PDF).
- Map of Maryland’s Gas Basins
- Learn more about methane from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.