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O'Malley should ban fracking

Based on Robert Lawrence's commentary, "Ban fracking, O'Malley" (Oct. 10), we have to be ever grateful that Gov. Martin O'Malley and the legislature decided to "look before they leap" by requiring a health study before authorizing hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas in Maryland. Now they have a report that says fracking "poses a broad range of dangers. It is not covered by provisions of the most important federal laws protecting our environment and public health including the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act" and it "poses a high or moderately high likelihood of negative public health impacts in seven of eight key research areas, including air quality, water quality, worker health and cumulative effects."

Despite this, the commission studying the issue has "recommended regulations and monitoring systems for moving forward with fracking, even though the study itself explicitly stated that regulations would not be able to minimize many risks. Indeed, most of the recommendations were for monitoring health impacts; they would not prevent them." Perhaps the commission did not read its own report?

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Governor O'Malley has said that he will only approve fracking in Maryland if it "can be accomplished without unacceptable risks of adverse impacts to public health, safety, the environment and natural resources." He did not say "if my commission recommends moving forward."

I trust Mr. O'Malley, our state legislature and the next governor will not feel that "high or moderately high likelihood of negative public health impacts in seven of eight key research areas" is "acceptable." Other presidential candidates in Iowa or New Hampshire can plead "I did not know what I was doing." If Mr. O'Malley approves fracking, he will have to admit he knew exactly what he was doing.

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Wilfred Candler, Annapolis

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