Maryland is not for Shale:Scientific and Public Anxieties of Predicting Health Impacts of Fracking

“In 2011, Maryland established the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative to determine whether and how gasproduction in the state could be accomplished without causing unacceptable risks to public health, safety,natural resources, and the environment. This initiative required a statewide health impact assessment of un-conventional natural gas development and production via hydraulic fracturing (i.e., fracking). Increasingnumber of studies have shown that fracking has significant potential to impact health and non-health outcomes.However, because of its rapid development, there is a lack of substantive research related to the public healtheffects of fracking. I discuss myfirsthand experiences as a medical anthropologist and public health researcheron a multi-disciplinary research team tasked with conducting Maryland’sfirst health impact assessment to de-termine the potential public health impacts associated with fracking. I focus on how fracking, as a relatively neweconomically viable source of energy and an emergent focus of study, brings about public and scientific anxi-eties, and how these anxieties shape subsequent environmental and health policy decision making processes. Ireflect on the potential role of social scientists in matters of scientific knowledge production and resulting policydecisions and the broader implications of such engagement for public social science”