Lawmakers approved pesticide reporting, ignored fracking concerns [Letter]

The Sun's wrap-up of what the legislature accomplished this session omitted to mention two issues of public health and environmental note ("Minimum-wage hike, new marijuana laws approved as session ends," April 8). One is a long overdue accomplishment, to begin funding a pesticide reporting system to enable public health and environmental research. The other was a significant failure to enact even the most basic public health protections in the event Maryland allows shale gas drilling.

As public health advocates, the Maryland Environmental Health Network knows that Maryland scientists, Chesapeake Bay restoration workers and public health researchers all need data on pesticide use. Lab science is telling us that pesticide exposure can carry serious consequences for fish, people and water quality. Public polls tell us Marylanders are concerned. The bill that passed starts us on the path to getting Maryland-specific and state-wide data that will allow us to protect people, wildlife and waterways.

As for shale gas drilling, commonly referred to as "fracking," the legislators missed key opportunities to protect Maryland from some of the worst problems being seen in other states. The extremely reasonable proposals of banning fracking wastewater disposal and establishing residential setbacks from gas wells to protect drinking water were killed in committee. Legislators ducked and passed the buck to departmental regulators. Voters ought to take note and demand that elected officials address these issues next year.

Rebecca Ruggles, Baltimore

The writer is director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network.

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