My home is Western Maryland so I am closely following issues pertaining to hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The Sun has not yet reported a study released last week by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study found a significant increase in pre-term births by women living near fracking sites in Pennsylvania. It concerns me that Maryland is purportedly in the process of writing regulations to permit fracking, yet state agencies may be ignoring information like this. Can we trust that regulation writing process? Will fracking regulations really protect the health and safety of Marylanders?
One agency that should help is the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene which participated in the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission 2014 health study and whose mission reads in part: "DHMH promotes the health of all Maryland citizens by serving as the advocate for public health initiatives and programs to improve the quality of life for all Marylanders. … Maryland's public health is our business."
By contrast, Maryland's new Regulatory Reform Commission, apparently supported by DHMH, is interested in "rolling back unnecessary impediments to conducting business in the state."
Regulations are not unnecessary — they are meant to protect citizens, including pregnant mothers and their babies, the most vulnerable among us. I ask that DHMH review and make public a statement on this new Johns Hopkins study and other recent fracking related research now available. Citizens must be assured that our public health and safety is not an "impediment" but is the first order of business for Maryland.
Natalie Atherton, Oakland
Current governor's disdain for regulations raises concern about whether fracking's dangers will be ignored.