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On Jan. 4, Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge James Salmon granted a declaratory judgment sought by Dominion Resources to allow the energy company’s plan to expand operations and export liquefied natural gas from its Cove Point terminal along the southern Chesapeake Bay. The Sierra Club had argued that a 2005 legal agreement involving permitted activities at the Cove Point site prohibited Dominion’s plan to export LNG.

Underlying the Cove Point dispute is the controversy over hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which involves blasting mixtures of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to stimulate the release of natural gas from shale deposits. Environmental groups and other critics contend that expanding export of LNG will increase fracking in Maryland and throughout the country.

A state fracking moratorium bill, to be introduced by Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery) in the Maryland House of Delegates and others in the Maryland Senate, would prevent fracking from occurring in Maryland until the state completes the series of 14 studies laid out in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) executive order on gas drilling, which also established an advisory commission.

Why study fracking before opening our state to this method of drilling? Across the U.S., fracking accidents and leaks have polluted air, streams and drinking water. Fracking uses 3 to 5 million gallons of fresh water per well laced with a multitude of toxic chemicals under pressure. Most of the waste fluid returns to the surface and, without proper containment, can pollute surface streams. A portion of the waste seeps into the local groundwater, which can poison drinking water wells. Areas of Pennsylvania and New York states, which are being heavily drilled using fracking, have experienced surface stream pollution, toxic and flammable tap water and numerous health problems.

You can come see a film on this process for yourselves. Food & Water Watch and the Sierra Club are hosting a presentation of the award-winning documentary film “Gasland” on Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Calvert Library Prince Frederick. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for refreshments, literature, letter writing and informative conversation. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a brief discussion. For more information about the event, contact, or call 301-884-8027.

Our energy needs would be far better served by aggressively investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources like wind and solar, which would result in a safe, sustainable future for the state, the country and the earth.

Frank L. Fox, Mechanicsville

The writer is a co-chairman of the Sierra Club Southern Maryland Conservation.