With Offshore Wind in Limbo, Is Maryland Going to Get Fracked?

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Gov. Martin O’Malley’s second try at offshore wind development died in the 2012 session of the Maryland general assembly, but it could get resurrected in a special session, if and when the governor calls one.

In the meantime, several economists have weighed in on Maryland’s energy prospects, and most have more-or-less endorsed the controversial natural-gas extraction process known as fracking (from “hydraulic-fracturing”), including Charles Ebinger, director of the Brookings Institution’s Energy Security Initiative, who has called it a more “economically viable” alternative to wind energy.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the old political adage “It’s the economy, stupid.” Well, perhaps we should start placing more  emphasis on “stupid.” I mean, fracking’s economic viability is not really the issue, here, is it?

Can environmental concerns, and not just abstract and distant environmental concerns (we’re talking tap-water-you-can-set-on-fire environmental concerns!) — ever trump “the economy?” Or at least could our cost-benefit analyses start counting damage to the environment as a “cost,” even if it’s only to project how much more money will be spent purchasing bottled water?

To be fair, Frank Felder, an economics professor at Rutgers, admits that with fracking there’s “some risk to the water that has to be dealt with.” But, realistically, will those problems be “dealt with?” Who will be the ones dealing with them?



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1 COMMENT

  1. Water quality is not the only concern – how about earthquakes? I second the notion that we need to stop and take a serious look at the long-term costs of fracking before we gallop ahead with technology that may well cause serious damage that is difficult or impossible to remedy. I for one would rather use less energy and/or pay more for it than risk flammable tap water and increasing earthquakes.

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