Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

May 20, 2014

Will Maryland roll the dice on fracturing?

Hydraulic fracturing continues to be actively considered by local and state politicians in Maryland. 
This raises the question: Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
A recent article in the Cumberland Times-News referred to a state-commissioned study conducted by Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies Institute (“Study: Area gas boom could bring 3,600 jobs,” May 17 Times-News, Page 1A). 
The study found that Allegany and Garrett counties would experience a boom from approximately 2017 through the late 2020s if hydraulic fracturing is permitted in the state. After that time period, both counties would experience a bust, according to Daraisu Irani, executive director of Towson’s Regional Economic Studies Institute. 
As an economic bust, Allegany and Garrett counties would most likely be “less appealing to the tourists and vacation-home buyers who are contributors to the area’s economy…”
An AP article published this month documented the number of traffic fatalities due to an increase in truck traffic related to hydraulic fracturing. In drilling areas in Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, traffic fatalities have increased on average 21 percent from 2012 to 2013. 
In other areas of the same states, traffic fatalities have decreased by as much as 20 percent during the same time period. As stated in the article, 2,400 to 4,000 truck trips are needed for each well as the trucks transport water and undisclosed chemicals to drilling sites. 
The fact that tanker trucks carry undisclosed chemicals present emergency responders and medical personnel with potential unknown hazards due to the hydraulic fracturing industry’s ability to keep secret the chemicals being used. 
Dr. Keith Eshleman and Dr. Andrew Elmore of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Appalachian Laboratory were recently honored by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents for their publication titled “Recommended Best Management Practices for Marcellus Gas Development in Maryland.” 

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