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No Fracking Secrets

 

Dear Governor O’Malley:

We are writing to ask you to support a common sense proposal on chemical disclosure in the event that Maryland authorizes the extraction of natural gas through a process of known as hydraulic fracturing.  Our proposal is designed to protect the health of Maryland families and to bring transparency to the oil and gas industry.

Our proposal has six important elements:

  1. Chemical formulas and other agents injected into our environment must not be subject to disclosure restrictions under trade secret regulations.
  2. Drilling operators must report the chemical ingredients and concentrations they use to a publicly accessible on-line database managed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH).
  3. Drilling companies must provide comprehensive data to DHMH, including toxicological profiles and epidemiological evaluations of chemicals and agents used in the production of natural gas, in addition to information on chemical changes that may occur as a result of the hydraulic fracturing of the well, including information on chemical reactions to other chemicals or substances.
  4. Maryland would establish a process to ensure that health professionals could expeditiously obtain and share information needed to treat patients and to report public health concerns.
  5. Maryland would prohibit non-disclosure agreements between drillers and local residents that restrict the ability of residents to discuss environmental or health issues associated with natural gas production.
  6. Hydraulic fracturing companies would pay for the costs of these programs through permitting fees.

We applaud the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) for working closely with the various interest groups in the development of best management practices (BMPs) for hydraulic fracturing in Maryland.  However, the draft BMPs continue to create unnecessary barriers to understanding the potential health risks caused by the injection of hydraulic fracturing chemicals into the environment.

The risks posed by these chemicals are not hypothetical.  A hydraulically fractured gas well typically requires between 60,000 and 100,000 gallons of chemical additives to be injected into the ground. Some of these chemicals are known or suspected carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, neurotoxins, or otherwise toxic to humans. In many instances, there is little or no information on the health effects of the chemicals being used.  Evidence indicates that hydraulically fractured wells are leaking at unacceptably high rates, and these leakage rates will increase over time.

We appreciate your attention to this issue and hope that you will support this common sense proposal.

1. Signed,

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