Fracking's false promise

Unless they are enforced, fracking regulations are just words on paper.

Letter writer Matthew Dempsey wants us all to jump on the fracking bandwagon, quoting governors of both parties, including former Gov. Martin O'Malley, that "regulations will effectively manage the risks of fracking" ("Fracking causes no harm," April 2).

Let's look at two issues. First, effective management of risks (of long-term chemical contamination of groundwater, environmental damage, road damage, etc.) through regulations.

Did regulations stop the Exxon Valdez oil spill, or the disastrous oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico? Have they stopped air pollution, contamination of the Chesapeake Bay, illegal fishing or Medicare fraud?

We could go on. The bottom line is that while regulations may reduce violations and risks, they stop neither. Regulations are just words on paper.

If the government (politics comes in here) does not budget adequate funds for adequate numbers of trained regulators, regulations become just another false promise of protection. And let's not forget the ever-present problem of "human error."

The second point is just as important but gets little attention, and that is the amount of water used (and lost) in the fracking process.

On a recent bus tour through rural north-central Pennsylvania, we drove past a railroad terminal where many huge tanker cars were parked on a siding. I learned that these were filled with groundwater from neighboring New York state, to be used in the fracking process!

The question comes to mind: How much drinking water is needed to extract, say, one barrel of oil? Drinking water is essential to life for an ever increasing population. Can we afford to use vast amounts of this precious commodity for fracking?

The false promise of regulatory protection and the use of vast amounts of drinking water make fracking a bad deal not worth the risk. Let's create thousands of jobs and economic growth in ways that protect our health and environment.

Donald T. Torres, Ellicott City

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