By Malee Oot February 26, 2013
Marylanders are expected to gather in Annapolis on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 in support of the fracking moratorium bill (SB 601) introduced by Delegate Heather Mizeur, which would prevent operations slated for the western part of the state. The rally in Annapolis, organized by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), comes on the heels of the largest climate rally in United States history to date, the Forward on Climate Rally in Washington, DC, which came earlier in February.
Maryland governor Martin O’Malley issued an executive order in 2011 to form a committee tasked with studying the impact of fracking in Maryland but the state’s General Assembly failed to pass the legislation required to fund the scientific assessment. Operations in Maryland would be targeted toward the western part of the state, where the Marcellus Shale, an underground rock formation running along from Virginia to New York, would be exploited in order to extract the natural gas.
Environmentalists are concerned about the ecological damage associated with each step of the fracking process. During gas extraction, several toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, some of which have not been fully disclosed by the natural gas industry. Presumed to be included are benzene, xylene and toluene. The leaching of toxic chemicals into water supplies as a result of fracking operations has already been reported in Dimock, Pennsylvania and Pavillion, Wyoming.
In Maryland, the location of fracking activity would target a part of the state critical to the tourism industry, an area also home to several state parks and wildlife management areas. Natural gas extraction could impact popular outdoor recreation locations in Garrett County and the surrounding area, including Savage River State Park, Potomac State Forest, Deep Creek Lake State Park, Mount Nebo Wildlife Management Area, and the Youghiogheny Natural Resource Management Area.