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August 26th, 2015

United Water’s Breach of Trust in New York’s Rockland County

By Mary Grant

At the end of July, United Water backed out of a water conservation task force in Rockland County, N.Y., in the wake of a scathing report about the company’s practices. This is its latest offense in an ongoing effort to build a boondoggle of a desalination plant, a project that could generate serious profits for the company while hiking water bills for the nearly 300,000 people it serves throughout Rockland County.

United Water, the U.S. water arm of French multinational Suez Environnement, first proposed desalinating Hudson River water in 2007. Soon after, a coalition of residents, elected officials and area groups formed the Rockland Water Coalition to oppose the company’s scheme and promote sustainable water management practices. (Food & Water Watch is a proud member of the Rockland Water Coalition.)

Last November, after years of tenacious organizing, the coalition’s efforts bore fruit when state regulators ordered the company to suspend its desalination plans and work with a county task force to study conservation measures. Earlier in 2014, Rockland County set up the Task Force on Water Resources Management to reduce water use and preserve water supplies in the county.

Around that the time, United Water CEO Bertrand Camus, Suez’s top ranking U.S. executive, promised that the company would be an active member of the task force. Explaining its involvement, a company spokesperson waxed lyrical in the local newspaper, “We are part of the fabric of the community.”

Now, the company has pulled out of the task force and says that it will pursue its own sustainability initiatives and consider the task force’s ideas but only if it can increase rates. Food & Water Watch warned three years ago that United Water can’t be trusted.

One of the company’s excuses was that it does not agree with everything that the task force says. In particular, it took exception to a report produced for the task force by an independent consultant. In response to the state’s November 2014 order, the task force hired Amy Vickers, an award-winning expert on water conservation and efficiency, to analyze United Water’s water system.

Vickers found that the company keeps unreliable records, replaces pipelines too slowly, inadequately monitors for leaks and wastes a large volume of water — an estimated 2.5 million to 3.3 million gallons a day. Her preliminary analysis determined that water conservation and main repairs could save a significant amount of water, making the company’s desalination plant of dubious value.

In response, the company vehemently attacked her findings, labeling them “overtly adversarial,” “closed-minded” and “aspirational advocacy.” Instead of studying how to address concerns raised by the report, the company went so far as to hire a firm to counter the report’s findings.

As Harriet Cornell, chair of the task force, wryly observed, “It is obvious that the independent study analyzing United Water’s data has touched a nerve and caused consternation at United Water.”

United Water’s commitment to conservation is questionable, and the company wants to charge residents for the money it sunk into a desalination plant that it now admits it doesn’t need for at least a decade.

The push is on to protect Rockland County’s water. Right now, state regulators are considering whether to order the company to completely abandon the desalination project. Check out the Rockland Water Coalition to get involved and learn more.

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August 6th, 2015

Ignominious 10th Anniversary of Fracking’s “Halliburton Loophole” This Weekend

Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

Washington, D.C. – This Saturday, August 8 marks the 10th anniversary of what largely enabled America’s oil and gas fracking boom: the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and a key provision of it known commonly as the “Halliburton Loophole.” The provision specifically exempted fracking operations from critical parts of benchmark environmental regulations like the Safe Drinking Water Act, enabling the oil and gas industry to develop fracking on a large national scale. Named after Dick Cheney (a leading supporter of the exemptions) and the drilling services corporation he ran before becoming vice president, the Halliburton Loophole and the entire Energy Policy Act was signed into law by Pres. George W. Bush on Aug. 8, 2005.

The following is a statement on this notable upcoming anniversary from Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the advocacy group Food & Water Watch and author of the upcoming book Frackopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Energy and The Environment:

“A decade into America’s fracking boom, the evidence of its immense harms to human health and our environment is vast and ever-growing. With more than 10 million Americans now living within a mile of a fracking site, it’s no surprise that families across the nation have been weakened by the sickness and toxic pollution this extreme fossil fuel drilling method has been repeatedly shown to cause. For all of this we can thank Dick Cheney and his Halliburton Loophole, which made fracking possible by exempting it from our most fundamental environmental protection laws.

The 10th anniversary of the Energy Policy Act and its Halliburton Loophole is a sad occasion, but it provides us with a ripe opportunity to reexamine our nation’s disastrous policy of doubling-down on fossil fuels over the last decade. For the sake of countless Americans who are currently suffering health effects of fracking, and the countless more who might yet suffer, we must immediately curtail our development of fossil fuels and turn decisively toward a truly clean, renewable energy future.”

Background: Fracking, also called “hydraulic fracturing,” is a destructive process that corporations like Halliburton, BP and ExxonMobil use to extract natural gas and oil from rock that lies deep underground. They drill a deep well and inject millions of gallons of toxic fracking fluid – a mix of water, sand and harsh chemicals – at a high enough pressure to fracture the rock and release the oil or gas.

Thanks to the Halliburton Loophole—also commonly referred to as the Cheney Loophole—fracking is exempt from major environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act. For more information, visit foodandwaterwatch.org/fracking.

Contact: Seth Gladstone – sgladstone[at]fwwatch[dot]org, 347.778.2866

 

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July 20th, 2015

Fracking-Harmed Pa. Residents Demand Action from Gov. Wolf

16 Individuals Impacted By Fracking Demand to be “Helped, Not Counted”

Scranton, Pa. – Individuals whose fracking-related health complaints were ignored by the state Department of Health (DOH) gathered outside the Scranton Courthouse today to discuss a letter calling on Governor Wolf to provide immediate help to their families and place a moratorium on fracking in Pennsylvania.

The event comes on the heels of recently released documents highlighting the DOH’s negligence of fracking-related health complaints. Food & Water Watch obtained the documents through a Right-to-Know-Law request, and released them last month with an accompanying analysis of the communications, demonstrating that DOH had been systematically neglectful of serious fracking-related health complaints.

The letter, signed by 16 individuals who were either able to identify their own cases in the DOH documents, or who contacted the DOH with fracking-related health complaints and received no response at all, calls on Governor Wolf to take substantive action to help families and communities that have been impacted by fracking, and to act immediately to stop fracking with a statewide moratorium. In part, the letter states:

The negligence of DOH came as no surprise to those of us who have suffered the impacts of shale gas development. We’ve already filed complaints with the DOH and DEP, reported our problems to the Attorney General’s office, and still we have not been helped. Our experience has discouraged others from reporting their health problems. With the health and safety of Pennsylvania’s families and children, friends and communities in your hands, we urge you to take action now. We call on you to impose a statewide moratorium on the issuing of new permits for drilling and fracking in our state. Further, we call on you to immediately help every Pennsylvanian whose health has been compromised by fracking.

“In 2013, we had serious symptoms from gas leaking into our home from a nearby fracking well. After a five-minute phone conversation with the Department of Health, we never received any follow up from DEP or DOH,” said Tom Chaffee, a Warren Center resident and listed as case #37 in DOH documents. “Having seen an official report of our complaint, there are multiple inaccuracies. We need help from Governor Wolf, now.”

“I want Governor Wolf to look into all the fracking-related health complaints in fracked counties, and provide help to those who have been impacted. We have been complaining since 2008, and we want to be heard. Issues need to be addressed,” said Vera Scroggins, a local resident listed as case #34 in DOH documents.

“After four years of waiting for the Corbett administration to act, we are counting on Governor Wolf to break from an atrocious legacy of unaccountability and provide help to the people of Pennsylvania,” said Craig Stevens, a Franklin Forks resident listed as #47 in DOH documents.

Earlier this month, Food & Water Watch submitted a right-to-know request to the state attorney general’s office, seeking any and all documents pertaining to fracking-related public health concerns in the state. The request comes almost a year after the office indicated to fracking-harmed residents who had unsuccessfully sought help from the Department of Health (DOH) and called on the attorney general to investigate, that it would conduct an investigation. Since then, no evidence of any substantive investigation has surfaced.

Contact: Seth Gladstone – sgladstone[at]fwwatch[dot]org, 718.943.8063

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July 2nd, 2015

Pittsburgh Residents File Suit Over Water Overcharging

By Brendan Agnew Faucet

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), the provider of water service to roughly 300,000 customers, is facing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. The suit, which seeks class action status, charges that many residents who had “smart meters” installed saw their bills skyrocket unexpectedly, some of them by as much as 600 percent.

According to the suit, the new meters, which were supposed to provide more accurate readings of water use, were prone to drastic measurement errors, in one case charging a property owner for 132,000 gallons on a vacant property. Customers who couldn’t pay these inflated bills were issued shutoff notices despite complaints to the PWSA. The suit points out that PWSA is “acutely aware” of the overbilling but “[did] not hesitate for a moment to issue ‘shut off’ notices and then arbitrarily turn off water service.

PWSA recently hired a new executive director, Jim Good, a former executive vice president of Veolia Water’s West Region. Good and Veolia were brought in to assist the city with the management and improvement of its outdated water infrastructure in 2012. The PWSA maintained governance over the system, with Veolia Water providing “day-to day management” and “diagnostic evaluations of Authority operations,” according to a PWSA press release.

Veolia oversaw management of the Authority when it began installing the new meters in April of 2014. The company makes much of its global revenue through implementing advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology such as the meters in question in the lawsuit. When the PWSA renewed its contract with Veolia earlier this year, the company cited its water meter replacement program as a highlight of its work in Pittsburgh, pointing to the added revenues more accurate billing could bring to the city.

Veolia has become notorious for unfair billing practices and mismanaging water systems, prompting a host of U.S. cities to cut ties to the company. As part of a larger utility transformation, the city of Indianapolis famously cut its engagement with the company more than a decade short in 2013, following similar accusations of overcharging and misconduct. Other cities have dropped Veolia over service complaints, while residents of Baltimore and St. Louis successfully fought to keep their cities from contracting with the company.

Pittsburgh residents have also seen spikes in water and sewer rates over the past year. The PWSA implemented a 4 percent rate increase this year, reportedly to cover costs of infrastructure updates, according to a report by Pittsburgh’s Tribune Review. Despite the rate increases, just prior to the litigation, PWSA hired Jim Good as its permanent head with a salary of $240,000 a year, plus potential bonuses, making him Pittsburgh’s second-highest paid government official, eclipsing even Mayor Bill Peduto, who is paid less than half as much.

The city will scale back Veolia’s contract as Good takes on a more central role and as the authority fills the remaining management positions. Hopefully, the public managers will work to improve affordable access to water in Pittsburgh.

Brendan Agnew is a Food & Water Watch summer water research and policy intern and a recent graduate from American University

With No Indication of Investigation of Pa. DOH Negligence on Fracking Health Complaints, Group Demands Records from Attorney General

AG’s Office Promised to Investigate in 2014; Evidence Suggests It Has Only Conducted Some Introductory Interviews

Philadelphia, Pa. (July 1) – The advocacy group Food & Water Watch submitted today a Right-to-Know request to the state attorney general’s office, seeking any and all documents pertaining to fracking-related public health concerns in the state. The request comes almost a year after the office indicated to fracking-harmed residents who had unsuccessfully sought help from the Department of Health (DOH) and called on the attorney general to investigate, that it would indeed conduct an investigation. Since then, no evidence of any substantive investigation has surfaced.

In July, 2014, an agent from the attorney general’s environmental crime unit requested from Food & Water Watch and Berks Gas Truth a list of state residents who had claimed to have contacted DOH about fracking-related health concerns, and hadn’t received adequate responses. The agent stated that the office would contact the individuals and conduct an investigation. However, follow-up with residents indicates that at least some interviews have taken place, but no follow-up investigation was ever launched.

“I spoke with the attorney general’s office, shared my story of how the Department of Health handled my health complaint, and was told we would see a report of the investigation. A year later, we haven’t heard a thing. And we still need help,” said Audrey Gozdiskowski, a Wyoming County resident who approached the DOH with a fracking-related health complaint last July and was subsequently contacted by the attorney general’s office.

Ms. Gozdiskowski was one of a dozen affected residents that sent a letter to the attorney general last July, demanding the investigation of the DOH.

This Right-to-Know request comes on the heels of a Food & Water Watch analysis of reams of documents it obtained that clearly demonstrate an ongoing pattern of alarming inadequacy and negligence by DOH in its response to fracking-related health complaints. After a 2014 StateImpact Pennsylvania report revealing that DOH health workers were instructed to identify key fracking “buzzwords,” and told not to respond to fracking-related health complaints, Food & Water Watch requested and eventually received the DOH natural gas drilling log of health complaints. The logs demonstrate that state residents are regularly reporting alarming health concerns, and that state agencies have failed to adequately respond and address these health problems from drilling and fracking.

Food & Water Watch will also be seeking more records from DOH, as significant gaps in data clearly exist in the documents received up to this point.

Common symptoms reported in the logs include breathing difficulty, asthma, throat and nose irritation, noxious odors, skin problems, and abdominal issues. Residents also reported headaches nosebleeds, eye irritation, hair loss and cancer. DOH responses to these complaints did not adequately address the seriousness of the reported symptoms. Many residents, after calling DOH, were simply referred to other state agencies and/or told to have their air or water tested.

As the analysis of the health complaint logs notes, the symptoms residents reported to the DOH are consistent with concerns identified in a range of scientific and public health assessments of the potential health impacts of drilling and fracking. For instance, many peer-reviewed papers point to the dangers of oil pollution from drilling and fracking, and the likelihood of respiratory and other health effects.

Contact: Seth Gladstone – sgladstone[at]fwwatch[dot]org

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June 24th, 2015

Documents Released Show Pa. Fracking Health Complaints, Negligence of State Agencies’ Response

Philadelphia, Pa. – The advocacy group Food & Water Watch released today an analysis of reams of documents it obtained from the state of Pennsylvania that clearly demonstrate an ongoing pattern of alarming inadequacy and negligence by the state Dept. of Health (DOH) in its response to fracking-related health complaints from state residents. After a 2014 StateImpact Pennsylvania report revealing that DOH health workers were instructed to identify key fracking “buzzwords,” and told not to respond to fracking-related health complaints, Food & Water Watch requested and eventually received the DOH natural gas drilling log of health complaints. The logs demonstrate that state residents are regularly reporting alarming health concerns, and that state agencies have failed to adequately respond and address these health problems from drilling and fracking.

Common symptoms reported in the logs include breathing difficulty, asthma, throat and nose irritation, noxious odors, skin problems, and abdominal issues. Residents also reported headaches nosebleeds, eye irritation, hair loss and cancer. DOH responses to these complaints did not adequately address the seriousness of the reported symptoms. Many residents, after calling DOH, were simply referred to other state agencies and/or told to have their air or water tested.

The DOH log records received by Food & Water Watch can be accessed here: http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/Grass_OOR_Appeal_Documents_Redacted.final.pdf

The full analysis of the complaint logs can be accessed here: http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/FWWRTKPADOH6.17.15-3.pdf

“This detailed look inside the Department of Health brings into stark relief what we’ve known for years – that Pennsylvanians are getting sick from drilling and fracking, and the state has been grossly negligent in protecting residents. Governor Wolf should break this legacy by instituting an immediate halt on any new fracking in the state,” said Sam Bernhardt, senior state organizer at Food & Water Watch in Philadelphia.

Scott Edwards, co-director of the Food and Water Justice program at Food & Water Watch added, “We fought for almost a year and with multiple administrations for these documents. Now we know why. These documents display the inadequacy and negligence of Department responses to serious health complaints from people who deserve better protection from irresponsible fracking industries. We will continue, through all the legal and grassroots organizing tactics at our disposal, to uncover the immense body of evidence of state negligence to the impacts of fracking hinted at in these documents.”

“My family and I were being made sick by fracking 500 feet from our house, so I went to Pennsylvania Department of Health for help. Instead, the agency tried to pass off my request to other agencies, which I knew were already uncooperative, and recommended prohibitively expensive tests. The agency’s account of my case as described in these logs is inaccurate at several junctures,” said Linda Headley, a Fayette County resident whose fracking-related health complaint was recorded in the documents received by Food & Water Watch.

“Both the DOH and the DEP lacked the resources and staff to follow up, thus relying on the limited time and capacity of others to formulate responses when a serious examination of repeated health damage was brought to them. Instead the public was directed on fruitless and often expensive air and water testing for unknown compounds or sent physicians who had limited ability to obtain information necessary to help the patients experiencing the exposures,” said David R. Brown, ScD, a public health toxicologist and the director of public health toxicology at Environment and Human Health, Inc. “The victims have become identified as the problem, and trust in government fairness has been lost. Trust in these agencies cannot be restored to this generation.”

As the analysis of the health complaint logs notes, the symptoms residents reported to the DOH are consistent with concerns identified in a range of scientific and public health assessments of the potential health impacts of drilling and fracking. For instance, many peer-reviewed papers point to the dangers of oil pollution from drilling and fracking, and the likelihood of respiratory and other health effects.

Contact: Seth Gladstone – sgladstone[at]fwwatch[dot]org, 347.778.2866

 

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April 13th, 2015

Somerset County Residents Fight Back Against Expanding Chicken Industry

By Michele Merkel and Claire Fitch

Chickens_Farm

Somerset County has been in the cross hairs of the poultry industry for quite a long time, with an inventory of 14.9 million broiler chickens – the largest of any county in Maryland, and the sixth largest in the United States. Big companies, including Perdue and Tyson own these birds, which are raised in large industrial facilities for their entire lives, and produce enormous quantities of waste. With nowhere to put the tens of millions of pounds of manure generated by these birds, the county is now considering poultry litter incinerators while continuing to entertain proposals to build a number of new broiler chicken operations.

Last week, public health scientists, environmental advocates, and local residents joined together for a Town Hall meeting at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to express their concerns with the proposed expansion of factory farm chicken operations and the construction of a poultry litter incinerator in Somerset County on the lower Eastern Shore.

Speakers at the Town Hall meeting gave us a snapshot of the public health and community impacts that may result from the expansion of broiler production and the introduction of manure burning facilities.

Brent Kim from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future spoke about the evidence of chemical contaminants and harmful bacteria, including antibiotic resistant strains, in and around broiler operations. These health hazards have been identified several miles downwind from such operations and may be carried into groundwater sources – particularly concerning for the 60 percent of Somerset County’s residents who access their household water supply from private wells. Read more…

April 7th, 2015

Baltimore Water Shut-Offs Violate Human Right to Water

Statement By Food & Water Watch Common Resources Director Mitch Jones

Baltimore, MD — “Baltimore’s Department of Public Works could deny 25,000 households, or approximately 75,000 people, their human right to water. The city must stop residential shutoffs and turn the water back on to avoid a human rights and public health disaster.

“Baltimore is repeating Detroit’s mistakes by denying thousands of households access to essential water and sanitation services. Last year, Detroit’s aggressive water shutoff program prompted widespread protest, international media scrutiny and condemnation by the United Nations.

“Baltimore should not cut off service to households who cannot afford to pay the city’s ever-growing water rates. It is an insult to human dignity and would violate their basic human right to water. Disconnecting service to thousands of homes also poses a very real public health threat. Without water service, people cannot flush their toilets or wash their hands. Lack of adequate sanitation can cause diseases to spread, making people sick. The elderly, children and people with diabetes and other illnesses would be especially vulnerable. Extensive water shutoffs would be a public health crisis in the making.

“It is not even clear whether all the bills for those targeted for shut-off are accurate, given Baltimore’s history of over-billing—one of the reasons behind the city’s effort to install smart meters.

“As water and sewer bills increase, existing low-income assistance programs are failing to meet the growing need. The city should target delinquent businesses first, while expanding its assistance to low-income residents and implement a comprehensive, income-based water affordability program. An income-based approach to water billing is the most equitable option. The city must act to ensure universal access to safe and affordable water service.”

Contacts: Mitch Jones, mjones(at)fwwatch(dot)org, 410-394-7651 or 443-418-6454

March 16th, 2015

Hundreds of National, State and Local Groups Urge Govs. Christie and Cuomo to Veto Port Ambrose LNG Plan

Letter Initiated by Food & Water Watch Highlights Grave Environmental and Safety Risks of Proposed Offshore Gas Port

New York, NY – A letter sent today by advocacy group Food & Water Watch to Governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo, signed by 217 national, state and local organizations, called on the governors to veto an offshore liquid natural gas (LNG) port being proposed for construction in the waters just off New York and New Jersey. As the letter states, the proposed Port Ambrose LNG facility would pose a significant explosion and pollution threat to nearby costal communities, would increase dependence on fossil fuels and fracking throughout the region, and would impede the prospect of offshore wind energy development in the same location. Both Christie and Cuomo have the ability to veto the proposal outright.

Additionally, as the public comment period on Port Ambrose came to a close today, Food & Water Watch submitted more than 27,000 comments to the U.S. Coast Guard and the federal Maritime Administration opposing the plan. The letter opposing Port Ambrose was signed by organizations from 24 different states, including prominent national organizations such as Sierra Club and 350.org.

“Governor Christie vetoed a similar offshore LNG proposal in 2011 and we hope he’ll once again do the smart thing for the safety and prosperity of the Jersey Shore,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Governor Cuomo recently became a national leader on the environment and public safety when he banned fracking in New York. For him to allow Port Ambrose now would be a real contradiction, and an about-face on fracking and fossil fuels. We urge both governors to reject this unneeded, unwanted offshore hazard.”

Notably, the letter highlights the connection Port Ambrose would likely have to the harmful, polluting practice of fracking in the United States. The letter states in part:

There is no convincing demonstration for the need of this project for [natural gas] imports… Although the Port Ambrose project is being proposed as in import facility, market forces dictate that it could be used to export LNG to foreign markets where has fetches a much higher price than in the United States… If converted to an export facility, the project’s threats would be compounded by the extent it would drive demand for drilling and fracking for natural gas. Fracking is a dangerous method of extracting oil and gas that threatens drinking water supplies, as well as the stability of our climate…

Contact: Seth Gladstone – sgladstone[at]fwwatch[dot]org, 718.943.8063

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March 11th, 2015

Western Maryland Business Owners Join Growing Call for Statewide Fracking Moratorium

More than 100 Businesses from Region Sign Letter to Legislators

Annapolis, Md. – Dozens of business owners and concerned residents of Western Maryland descended on the capital today to highlight strong and growing demand in their region for a statewide fracking moratorium. They presented a letter to legislative leaders signed by more than 100 Western Maryland business owners calling for the moratorium. The letter cites deep concern over the grave effects the highly industrial, polluting process of fracking could have on regional businesses, particularly those related to the booming tourism and leisure industries. Western Maryland residents also delivered to the legislature today some of the 20,000 petitions from state residents calling for the moratorium that were recently collected by advocacy groups.

Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo and Senator Karen Montgomery are the two lead sponsors on the Protect Our Health and Communities Act (HB 449/SB 409), introduced in February, to enact a long-term moratorium on fracking in the state.

“I believe the impacts from fracking will take our Golden Goose and send it flying. Having seen the equipment intensive widespread heavy industry that fracking is I cannot see how it is compatible with vacationing in Deep Creek Lake or Garrett County. Tourism pays a lot of bills in Garrett County,” said Steven Green, co-owner of High Mountain Sports and former president of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce.

“We are excited for the chance to respectfully explain that our own elected representatives do not reflect the sentiments of what we believe are most business owners’ viewpoints in Mountain Maryland. We say no to water contamination, no to urban-style air pollution in our valleys, no to the perpetual truck traffic that will spell the end of our tourism industry and yes — resoundingly yes — to fracking moratorium legislation,” said Paul Roberts, co-proprietor of Deep Creek Cellars.

“My business has introduced the beauty of rural, western Maryland to many thousands of outdoor recreation tourists and cyclists each year, visitors who are typically affluent and have a high likelihood of returning often.  Outdoor recreation tourism in general, and cycling in particular, is not compatible with destroyed roads, heavy truck traffic, polluted air, and the eyesore that is inherent with fracking. Western Maryland should be encouraging rather than discouraging the outdoor recreation industry,” said Kyle Yost, owner of Garrett Events.

“According to a Washington Post poll, more than 50 percent of Marylanders oppose fracking. Because of all the research that is coming out on the potential health, environmental and safety risks of the fracking industry, we need to take a step back and let the science play out on these issues,” said Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo.

The advocacy groups that collected more than 20,000 petitions in support of the fracking moratorium are: Chesapeake Climate Action Network; CREDO Action; Environmental Action; Food & Water Watch; Friends of the Earth; League of Conservation Voters; Sierra Club; and Waterkeepers Chesapeake.

Background: Fracking is a controversial natural gas drilling method that involves blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at extreme pressure to break up rock and release the gas. Maryland’s new governor, Larry Hogan, has said he wants to move forward with drilling — despite the growing evidence of its harm and the most recent polling, which shows a clear majority are concerned about those risks.

More than 425 peer-reviewed scientific studies on the effects of shale gas development now exist, and 75 percent of those have been published since January 2013. Of the 49 studies that investigated the health effects of fracking, 47 – over 96 percent – found risks or adverse health outcomes. Maryland’s Institute for Applied Environmental Health (MIAEH) also concluded that the likelihood of negative public health impacts was “high” or “moderately high” in 7 of 8 areas studied. The latest poll in Maryland found 58 percent of Marylanders who know of fracking thought it would harm the state’s environment. For more information visit www.DontFrackMD.org

Contact: Ryanne Waters – rwaters[at]fwwatch.org, 818.371.0912

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