The Cumberland Times News published an article on Sept. 28, “Maryland proposes stringent fracking regulations.” MDE claims the regulations are the most stringent and protective fracking guidelines in the country. That may be but comparing these regulations to the regulations of other states doesn’t mean much given the horrors that these other states have experienced. 

Many of the members of the O’Malley commission (MSDI) who studied the issues related to fracking are outraged and have publicly commented the regulations won’t ensure that the public won’t be harmed. That is these regulations and in fact any regulations won’t keep us safe.

We’re very patiently told that we can use regulation to do this safely. Fracking can’t be regulated such that the practice is safe and poses no threat to life despite what the state of Maryland says. I want to emphasize that. Regulations won’t help. Regulations are nothing more than attempt to legislate morality. You can’t legislate morality. After decades of regulation the Oil & Gas (O&G) community displays the moral character of the tobacco industry. Secondly by properly controlling the fracking process to make it safe, assuming it was possible to do so, would make fracking so expensive that O&G wouldn’t be interested. The governor tells us that. They couldn’t make enough money. That indicates the practice is economically infeasible.

In addition proper regulation is not practiced by the state because it is very expensive, takes lots of expertise, and is very time-consuming. Assuming that the state of Maryland could find people who could stand up and populate this kind of organization, it would take three to four years to get it operating effectively. The state doesn’t want to wait and doesn’t want to spend what it would cost. The MSDI “best practices” document is a fine piece of work. “Best practices” was supposed to be used as a framework to write the regulations. The regulations presented to us last June completely ignored some of the key parts. This is just one example of the state’s commitment to our safety and well being. In addition the document states in the executive summary that, “We believe that it is inevitable that there will be negative impacts from Marcellus Shale Gas Development in Western Maryland and that a significant portion of these “costs” will be borne by local communities.”

Finally, supposing O&G was willing to be properly regulated, that the state was willing to setup for proper regulation and was willing to delay industry until it was functionally operational, it’s still not at all clear that it’s possible. For example no one on the planet knows how to ensure that concrete pathways, several miles long, exposed to extremely high hydraulic pressures and geologic forces, won’t leak and foul water. No one knows what is taking place 8,000 feet beneath the surface of the planet. There is apparently some effect on the geologic subterranean formations. The people in Oklahoma are starting to think that perhaps we should know more about it. You would probably be about as successful trying to control continental drift with regulations.

It took leadership 50 years to understand that smoking was killing people before acting on it. It has taken leadership over 50 years to admit that the planet is warming.  And while there is still no consensus that burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause, that’s quickly changing.

Don’t let the state of Maryland continue placing revenue ahead of our well being. Let the state know that we want to ban fracking this coming legislative session. We’re running out of time. We can’t wait another 50 years.

Jim Guy

Oldtown

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