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Taking a hard look at fracking from the ground up

Your coverage of the fracking conference held by Maryland environmental, faith and health organizations ("Activists rally for fracking conference", Dec. 9) states that activists met "to organize a push for a legislative ban" on fracking. The focus of the discussion was actually to put a legislative "pause" or moratorium on fracking into law that would allow science, open debate and democracy to ultimately decide the fate of fracking in Maryland.

In 2011, Gov. Martin O'Malley ordered a series of studies on the potential impacts of fracking on groundwater, the climate, air, forests, human health and our rural communities. Unfortunately, thanks in large part to lobbying by the American Petroleum Institute (API), bills to fund these studies stalled in the Maryland Senate. Currently, Maryland has no achievable plan to carry out risk studies and assess whether the costs to our health and environment would be acceptable. We also have no formal laws on the books to ensure these studies are done before any drilling occurs.

Members of the General Assembly have a responsibility to ensure that Maryland takes a long, hard look at fracking before we leap into drilling. A legislative moratorium will ensure the public's right to know what the impacts on our communities could be — and allow them to then decide if they are acceptable. This is the prudent and responsible thing to do for members of the General Assembly who, unlike API, are charged with looking out for the citizens of Maryland.

Erik DuMont, Takoma Park

The writer is Maryland state director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

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