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Go slow on fracking until we know more about its long-term impact on the environment [Letter]

Regarding your recent editorial on fracking, I agree we need to safeguard our drinking water supplies ("Fracking still worrisome," Oct. 7).

I would add that fracking requires huge amounts of water, and once water been used for fracking it cannot be returned to the streams it came out of.

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In states where fracking occurs, those streams are often right on the land being fracked. Water post-fracking can't be adequately treated at municipal water treatment plants, partly due to the possible presence of naturally occurring radioactivity, as you point out. It has to be taken somewhere, and that "somewhere" includes abandoned mines. Injecting post-fracking water into mines is a known cause of earthquakes. That isn't up for debate anymore.

So dirty or clean, fracking will take a great deal of clean, free-flowing water from our mountainous rural counties in Western Maryland, and it won't be returned. Some landowners who signed drilling leases in other states didn't realize this until too late.

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For a resource whose wells dry up amazingly quickly, the risks of fracking are just too high. I am glad The Sun is urging caution. We must urge Gov. Martin O'Malley to authorize the longer-term, more comprehensive studies that will tell us more about the dangers of fracking.

Gas wells do not produce over long periods of time like many oil wells and coal mines do. Their short production lives are a very serious drawback, and we don't need to ruin Western Maryland to find that out.

Karie Firoozmand, Timonium

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