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:
- Chemical formulas and other agents injected into
our environment must not be subject to disclosure restrictions under trade
- 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).
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.