We, the undersigned farmers and workers in Maryland’s food system, write to express our support for legislation that would ban fracking in Maryland. The growing body of scientific evidence coupled with the track record of other states demonstrates that no regulatory framework can adequately protect Maryland’s environment or residents.
Fracking and a healthy food system are simply incompatible. Fracking would pose unacceptable risks to farmland, crops, livestock, vineyards and ultimately Maryland’s food supply. The fracking industry has left in its wake polluted water wells, sickened people and livestock, and reduced available farmland; fracking fluid spills have sickened and killed livestock and contaminated cropland across the country. These incidents have undoubtedly hurt farmers, while affecting consumer confidence in the food produced in affected areas.
Fracking releases methane – a greenhouse gas that fuels climate disruption – and consumes an enormous amount of water, potentially putting a strain on water availability in key agricultural regions.
Maryland’s fracking regulations ignore crops, animals and the dire impact that fracking may have on Maryland’s food supply. There are no protections for farm animals, barns, feed and grain storage areas, or water sources for irrigation systems and animals. This is problematic because toxins can readily enter the food chain through harmful air emissions from fracking sites, chemical spills, groundwater migration, and contaminated surface water. These toxins make their way into the muscles, organs and milk-producing glands of animals that we rely on as a source of food.
If fracking is allowed in Maryland, farms will be economically harmed and may lose certifications that bring them business. For instance, a major organic milk supplier, Horizon, contracts with farmers in Western Maryland and is now requiring that dairy cows not be exposed to fracking hazards. In Pennsylvania, there has been a sharp decline in dairy farming in counties where fracking is taking place, with an increase in dairy farming elsewhere. Livestock have been quarantined due to contaminated water supplies with unsafe concentrations of chlorine, magnesium, potassium, and naturally occurring radioactive materials.
Given the location of the Marcellus Shale, fracking would threaten the rich agricultural sector in Western Maryland. However, fracking's damage to Maryland’s food system would hurt the entire state.
Farmers' livelihoods depend on the health of the land and our waterways. Please don’t jeopardize these priceless resources for a boom-and-bust industry. We strongly urge you to protect Maryland’s food supply by passing a statewide fracking ban in Maryland before it’s too late.