Walking Across Maryland to Support Fracking Ban
Oakland, Md. – Two Garrett County women will launch their “Water Walk Maryland,” a 313-mile journey on foot across the state intended to highlight public concern about shale gas development, during the 2016 Autumn Glory Parade that Gov. Larry Hogan will officiate.
Kim Alexander, farmer from northern Garrett County, and Aeryn Boyd, artist and urban farmer from Howard County will complete Water Walk Maryland in mid-November at the natural gas export facility being built in Calvert County near Cove Point, where American gas will be shipped out of the country. They hope their trek will call attention to the value of Maryland’s freshwater while promoting the ban on fracking to be introduced in the General Assembly in January.
“I am walking because I fear the serious health risks fracking poses to the water, soil, creatures, and people,” says Kim Alexander, who owns a farm near Friendsville. “This walk is critical to the future of farming because without a fracking ban, it will be impossible to ensure safe, toxin-free food production at a time that small farms are thriving in our county.”
Alexander and Aeryn Boyd will walk the parade dressed in costumes representing fresh spring water and fracking brine to contrast the choice Maryland faces to ban or legalize fracking. “We are excited to celebrate water, singing and dancing behind the Grand Marshal, Gov. Hogan while also highlighting the potential consequence of fracking by carrying contaminated well water from Dimock, PA” said Boyd. “We hope our efforts help voters learn about the statewide Don’t Frack Maryland Coalition, which intends to enact a ban against this technology that, unless stopped, will commit our country to another generation of dependence on finite fossil fuels. ”
After leaving Oakland, the pair will venture north into Allegany County. They plan to be in Frostburg Oct. 16th through the 20th, when an ordinance to ban fracking within town limits is expected to be introduced at the City Council meeting.
Alexander, who is a board member of Citizen Shale, the community group engaged in anti-fracking efforts since the issue first developed in 2011, noted that Frostburg would become the third western municipality — along with Friendsville and Mountain Lake Park — to put in place a prohibition on gas development. Prince George’s and Montgomery counties have already instituted bans, and Charles County is expected to follow suit this fall. Several other counties and towns are taking up resolutions.
From Frostburg, Alexander and Boyd will hike the Great Allegheny Passage to Cumberland, and then continue east on the former C&O Canal on their way toward Washington, D.C.. But before arriving in Washington, Water Walk Maryland will make a stop in Myersville on Halloween weekend to light Jack-O-Lantern vigils. Myersville is a rural community where residents challenged but lost their fight against the building of a huge natural gas compressor station that town residents say spews harmful pollutants that they have to breathe. Despite zoning intended to prevent the station’s construction and a lengthy court battle, Cove Point owner Dominion Resources completed the facility in 2014.
“Fracking is broader than just the proposed wells in western Maryland,” explains Alexander “it also includes gas related infrastructure to move, process, compress, burn, liquify and export the gas, all of which pose negative environmental and health impacts.”
The women are planning a solution based permaculture event in Sandy Spring with Sherwood High School and passing through Washington on Election Day, before heading to Brandywine, Md., where a cluster of three natural gas-powered electricity generating stations are being proposed in the area, in addition to the other two already built. From there, they will head towards Lusby in southern Maryland, where Dominion is completing its liquefied natural gas refinery and export facility in a residential neighborhood of 20,000 people.
“This water walk is an opportunity for all of us to become informed active stewards of our community and Mother Earth,” says Boyd. “We need to understand what the current relationships are between individual communities, big business, the environment, and our government. Together, we can unite around the need for a transition to sustainable energy technologies and healthy land practices.”
Water Walk Maryland may be followed via the duo’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/WaterWalkMD/ , with many events still be planned along the way. The general schedule is: Oct. 15: Oakland; Oct. 16-20: Frostburg/Cumberland; Oct. 29-31: Frederick/Myersville; Nov. 5: Sandy Spring; Nov. 8: Washington D.C.; Nov. 12: Brandywine; Nov. 16: Cove Point.
To contact Water Walkers:
Phone/text: 301. 523. 7306