Environmental groups and area lawmakers are renewing their push to prevent fracking in the state of Maryland until further studies can be done.
Fracking, which is not currently done in Maryland, involves injecting a mixture of water and chemicals thousands of feet underground to open up horizontal seams in the bedrock that let natural gas out and up a well.
The prospect has at least been discussed, as there is believed to be natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale in the western part of the state. Before discussions go any further, however, Maryland Del. Heather Mizeur wants to know the risks.
"We're gonna be sending a message that no studies in Maryland means no fracking in Maryland," says Mizeur.
The Delegate, along with State Senators Jamie Raskin and Brian Frosh, propose a moratorium on the practice until a number of health and environmental studies are complete. They also want the industry to pay for those studies.
"There are thousands of cases of well contamination that have been documented near fracking sites in Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, Ohio and Pennsylvania," says Frosh.
That is disputed by America's Natural Gas Alliance, which argues that no cases of groundwater contamination have been linked to fracking. It is true, however, that surface spills of fracking liquid have contaminated wells. In a written statement, America's Natural Gas Alliance argues that "natural gas can be and is safely and responsibly produced in communities across the country."
The lawmakers' announcement that they want to head off potential fracking comes as a host of environmental groups have filed a legal petition with the EPA to ask for regulatory action on fracking chemicals. Currently, mining companies in most states aren't required to report what their fracking fluid contains.