Panel Discusses Maryland’s Fracking Moratorium

On November 2, 2016, the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Office of Public Health Practice and Training held a panel discussion on fracking and the future of the Maryland fracking moratorium. Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping highly pressurized liquid into the earth to split rock and allow gas to flow out to the head of the well. The State of Maryland enacted a fracking moratorium in May 2015 that bars the state from issuing permits for fracking until October 2017. The moratorium requires the Maryland Department of Environment to adopt fracking regulations by late Fall 2016.

Marsha Wills-Karp, chair of the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, kicked off the discussion with a note that fracked gas accounts for 14% of natural gas in the United States today. By 2020, this figure is expected to be 45%. The panel included three speakers who discussed various dimensions of the topic:

David Fraser-Hidalgo, Delegate of Maryland District #15 and Chair of Maryland General Assembly Hydraulic Fracturing Work Group, introduced the bill for a long-term statewide moratorium on fracking. He pointed out that western Maryland faces economic considers and sees fracking as an opportunity to create jobs. However, fracking is more than just extracting gas, such as the numerous truck trips for setting up a site, and the overall picture raises questions on the health and safety impacts for surrounding communities.

Horacio Tablada, Deputy Secretary at the Maryland Department of the Environment explained his department’s role in the moratorium. Their goal is prevention and they are planning to publish Maryland fracking regulations in mid-November 2016. Chemical disclosure will be one piece of the regulations, such as requiring 90% of the fracking waste to be recycled and not injected back into Maryland grounds.

Sara G. Rasmussen, PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Bloomberg School of Public Health discussed the health impacts of fracking. Studies have documented air, water, physical, psychosocial and economic impacts. For example, studies have found consistent associations between various phases of fracking that exacerbates asthma.

The panel was moderated by Clarence Lam, Delegate for Maryland District #12 and Director of Johns Hopkins Preventative Medicine Residency. 

Left to right: Sara Rasmussen, Horacio Tablada, and David Fraser-Hidalgo

For more photos and highlights, check out the Facebook posts by the Office of Public Health Practice & Training 

For additional information, see the Physicians for Social Responsibility resource page for health impacts of fracking


Climate change has happened because of human behavior, therefore it’s only natural it should be us, human beings, to address this issue. It may not be too late if we take decisive actions today.
— Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General