August 30 Public Meeting with House Environment and Transportation Committee

Legislative Committee will visit Garrett County to gather Western Maryland views on Fracking 

Western Maryland citizens have a rare opportunity to host the House Environment and Transportation Committee.  During the 2017 legislative session, this committee will be making the first decision on a bill to ban fracking in Maryland.

The committee will visit Garrett County on Aug 30-31.  They are on a fact-finding mission to see first-hand the area that will be impacted first and most by fracking, should they allow it in our state. Committee members are anxious to understand residents' expectations and concerns.  This will be our only chance to talk face to face with legislators here in western Maryland!

Panel discussions and meetings scheduled throughout the day on August 30 are open to the public to observe.  The evening meeting at Garrett College is our opportunity to comment.

Public Meeting: 6:30 pm Garrett College Auditorium, 687 Mosser Road, McHenry
Be prepared to tell the committee your concerns (2 minute time limit)

House Environment and Transportation Committee Visit to Western Maryland.  See full schedule at this link

BUT WAIT, There's more!

Bring your friends and family to an informal gathering before the 6:30 meeting.

What:
Food Not Fracking Tailgate Picnic**
When: 
August 30, 5:30 pm 
Where:
Parking lots and lawns outside the Garrett College Auditorium

Action:
CELEBRATE our foods, farms and families!
Bring a picnic and bring signs that show what a healthy, vibrant community western Maryland is ALREADY.

We don't need fracking.  We can't afford fracking.
Our healthy families want to stay that way!

Visit the Facebook event page to RSVP.

**this is a healthy, family-friendly event.  Please no smoking, no alcohol.

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Fracking Linked to Increased Asthma

Johns Hopkins has released a report that links asthma and fracking.  Asthma sufferers near drilling sites are four times more likely to suffer attacks than those living farther away.

Full coverage at the Baltimore Sun

From the article:

[Sara G.] Rasmussen [a study leader and doctoral candidate in the department of environmental health sciences at Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health] and other investigators agree that more study is needed to determine the cause of the negative health outcomes. Other research has connected proximity to the wells to pre-term births and lower birth weights, respiratory and skin irritation, and increased hospitalizations in neurology, oncology and urology.

The Hopkins study looked at the health records of 35,000 asthma patients in the Geisinger Health System and found there were more mild attacks requiring inhalers, more moderate attacks requiring an emergency room visit and more severe attacks requiring hospitalization.

 

 

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Comment to MDE due Monday July 18

Maryland Department of Environment invites comments on the "Issue Paper" that outlines recommendations for fracking regualtions.  The Paper was release last month and can be found here: http://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Land/mining/marcellus/Documents/Issue_Papers_Combined.pdf

Written comments will be accepted through July 18, 2016 by e-mail at marcellus.mde@maryland.govor by mail at:

  • Attn: LMA Director’s Office
    Maryland Department of the Environment
    1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 610
    Baltimore, MD 21230

Based on continuing review and evaluation of the comments received on the issue papers, the Department will propose a revised set of regulations in the Maryland Register in advance of the October 1, 2016 promulgation deadline. Following proposal, the Department will provide an additional 30-day written comment period before taking any final action on the regulations.

Citizen Shale submitted the folowing statement:

To: Sec. Benjamin Grumbles, Maryland Department of Environment
From: Citizen Shale, Friendsville, MD

Citizen Shale, the community organization involved since 2011 in the shale gas development question in western Maryland, expresses our unequivocal opposition to your department’s attempts to regulate fracking with the rules presented recently in public hearings around Maryland.

We find the regulations will not ensure safety for those living in the path of development or for the environment. Given your department’s decision to so greatly relax and weaken many key provisions proposed by the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley, we see no alternative but to take our concerns to the legislature. 

We call upon the General Assembly to ban fracking in Maryland. 

Let us specifically address three areas in the draft regulations: setbacks from private residential water sources; multiple casing strings; and comprehensive development plans. First, however, please note such comments should not be construed to mean that “fixing” the problems cited may be sufficient for us to reverse our position regarding the need for a ban. Broadly, we feel the proposed rules are so flawed that no amount of “tweaking” can ensure “safe and responsible drilling,” as you, Gov. Hogan, and western Maryland's legislative delegation have promised. Further, we see no credible evidence — anywhere in the world — that fracking can be regulated without tremendous risk of harm for some people in the area of development, for our region’s economy, and for the environment. 

Regarding the recommended setback from private water sources (affecting an estimated 14,400 households): the department should be embarrassed to suggest that 1,000 feet — the same as currently required, back to 1993, before horizontal drilling or fracking — is sufficient. The scale and impact of drilling and gas infrastructure in 2016 is many times more invasive than in the “vertical drilling” era. 

We are well aware of the arguments for the 2,000-foot setback proposed proposed by the O'Malley administration (though the only peer-reviewed research on the subject recommended a 1 kilometer setback). Since that commission disbanded in late 2014, has new peer-reviewed research emerged? We are not aware of it, despite assurances from MDE’s Jeffrey Fretwell that a response to this concern—raised three times publicly by board president Paul Roberts—is forthcoming. To date, no follow-up has been received.

On this issue in particular, the department makes a mockery of the scientific process that it claims to follow. 

Similarly, MDE representatives at public meetings claimed that the “extra casing string” proposed will, somehow, make up for reducing the setback by 1,000 feet. Where is that scientific evidence? 

While the department may be willing to experiment on Marylanders with engineering concepts, speculation by engineers and administrators is not science. And, we believe the agency knows the difference even as, you, Mr. Secretary, continue to make erroneous claims that key elements of the proposed regulations are “guided by the science.” 

We object, strenuously. This cynical and cavalier approach to shale gas regulations undermines public confidence in government generally and in your ability specifically to regulate the industry, should Maryland ever be so unfortunate that fracking is allowed under the proposed regulatory scheme.

You also assert that comprehensive development plans are likely to reduce impacts on public health and the environment. Again, we have asked for the peer-reviewed research about this strategy. Again, nothing is forthcoming from MDE. 

Finally, further buttressing our position, the chief architect of the "O’Malley regulations” (former MDE administrator Brigid Kenney, now retired), stated at the June 29 public hearing in Garrett County that she, too, finds your proposals lacking and “insufficient to assure” the public that fracking can be done with acceptable risks. 

If fracking occurs in our state — using these regulations, “enforced" by this agency — western Maryland’s tourism economy will be undermined. Moreover, we believe many nightmarish stories of harm to humans and the environment — equal to those seen in Pennsylvania, which MDE has cited as a model for these regulations — are inevitable.

For this reason, for others outlined above, and for literally dozens cited in the public record of dialogue on fracking over the last seven years (excessive truck traffic; dangerous levels of toxic air emissions produced by that traffic and by the drilling process; significant risks for local first-responder and emergency medical services — examples all scantily addressed by these regulations), we see no credible evidence that the department is capable of regulating shale gas development. 

We respectfully submit these comments, and call upon the General Assembly to ban fracking in Maryland.

UNSAFE & irresponsible graphic AT

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Do you live over a shale gas play?

Most people in Maryland think fracking could only happen in Western Maryland, in the Marcellus Shale.  But there are 4 more shale plays going across Maryland, under the Chesapeake Bay and out to the Ocean.

MD-Fracking-Shale-Map-no-logo

 

And then there's the Utica Shale, which is almost contiguous with the Marcellus in Maryland, but deeper.

USGS-Releases-Survey-on-Shale-Gas-Resources-in-Utica-USA

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Sierra Club FRACKING BAN CAMPAIGN coming to Western Maryland

The Sierra Club's western Maryland fracking BAN campaign kickoff!

Join Us.  This Saturday, July 16

Click here to RSVP

W.MDFrackingBanFlyer

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this is maryland’s fracking uprising [Climate Howard Blog]

[Climate Howard Blog] this is maryland’s fracking uprising

July 6, 2016

mchenry

At the meeting in McHenry, Gabe Echeverri asked all who supported a ban to stand.

If Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles is doing his job, he is probably meeting with Gov. Larry Hogan this week to deliver the message: “Mr. Governor, we have a problem.”

The issue papers outlining how the Hogan administration would welcome frackers to our state have been met with a resounding “NO.”

And last night, in front of an exuberant and even tearful room of residents, the Town Council of Friendsville in Garrett County voted 5-1 to ban fracking, following in the footsteps of Mountain Lake Park, which said no to fracking in 2011. Both towns lie over the Marcellus Shale gas basin. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, on top of the Taylorsville and Culpeper shale basins,  also have put in place local bans.

read the full post at Climate Howard

https://climatehoward.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/this-is-marylands-fracking-uprising/

 

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Film: Fracking Western Maryland?

On Saturday, July 9 at 9am, join Friends of Deep Creek Lake, Citizen Shale and others at Garrett 8 Cinemas for a screening of Fracking Western Maryland?

frackingposter3-2

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Speaking Out Against Fracking in Western MD

A handful of watershed, watchdog, and community groups and dozens of individuals from Garrett and Allegany, Maryland's two western-most counties, raised their signs and their voices against fracking in our state.  Maryland Department of the Environment regulators presented unfounded and unjustifiable recommendations for fracking regulations that left even fracking fence-riders shaking their heads.  

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Prior to the comment period inside the Garrett College Auditorium, citizens gathered outside for a live dog and pony show presented by members of Citizen Shale.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Contact:  Thomas Meyer, tmeyer@fwwatch.org, 360-460-7397

Paul Roberts, Citizen Shale, 301-746-4287

Marylanders Bring Live Dog & Pony to Final Marcellus Shale Meeting to Demonstrate the Charade Being Put on by the Hogan Administration

McHenry, MD – Western Maryland residents and members of the Don’t Frack Maryland coalition staged a live dog and pony show ahead of the final public meeting hosted by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) on the department’s forthcoming fracking regulations. Hundreds attended to call for an outright fracking ban in Maryland and brought a live dog and pony to the meeting to demonstrate the charade being put on by Governor Hogan and his administration.

“There is no way to regulate fracking, period,” said Jim Guy, board member of Citizen Shale. “The Hogan administration says they want to make these regulations fair and balanced. Is this supposed to be a negotiation where our health, safety, and well being are threatened to be fair to oil and gas industry so they more easily profit? It sounds like Governor Hogan thinks that money is more important than the lives of his own constituents.”

MDE officials claimed earlier in June that Pennsylvania and West Virginia were good examples of how Maryland should approach fracking, despite the harm that fracking has caused in those states. Concerned Maryland residents stressed the urgency and overwhelming opposition to allowing fracking in Maryland at the third of the public meetings. Residents testifying against fracking have dominated all three meetings.

“Governor Hogan's Department of the Environment restated their mission to protect public health at last week’s public meeting in Cumberland,” said Dr. Ann Bristow, a Garrett County resident and member of Governor Martin O’Malley’s Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Commission. “The hollowness of these words resounded loudly with the citizens of Maryland who know that the only way to protect our health and our environment is to ban this destructive industry.”

An April 2016 analysis of more than 685 peer-reviewed studies on fracking found “the weight of the evidence indicates that hazards and elevated risks to human health, as well as possible adverse health outcomes, are associated with unconventional natural gas development (UNGD), commonly referred to as fracking.”

“This whole process is a sham. Governor Hogan knows that there is no way to make fracking safe, so instead of banning fracking, his administration is doing everything they can to help the oil and gas industry,” said Thomas Meyer, Senior Maryland Organizer for Food & Water Watch. “From releasing issue papers at the last minute to making audacious claims that Pennsylvania is a good example of successful fracking, it’s clear which side the administration is on. Over 100 organizations have endorsed the Don’t Frack Maryland campaign and are calling for a ban on fracking in Maryland. It’s time to stop listening to the oil and gas industry and start listening to the people of this state.”

The Maryland Department of the Environment is expected to propose a revised set of regulations in the Maryland Register in advance of the October 1, 2016 promulgation deadline.

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PA “ruined” by fracking

Last night, Wednesday,  June 22, Maryland Department of Environment held up the state of Pennsylvania as a model for our state as the Department writes and implements fracking regulations.  (see Cumberland Times-News coverage:

http://www.times-news.com/news/local_news/state-officials-gather-input-as-fracking-regs-get-refined/article_01cea859-c1da-5aa3-9f54-53e203a2e1de.html

 

The Center for Public Integrity released this article almost concurrently:

It is the story of Jesse and Shirley Eakin, whose water went bad seven years ago, and who are still awaiting a decision by the State of Pennsylvania as to whether the fracking industry is responsible.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pennsylvania-fracking-water_us_576b7a76e4b0c0252e786d5e

MDE is holding public meetings in Baltimore and McHenry, and allowing a public comment period on issue papers they will use to justify and write fracking regulations.  

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MDE releases Fracking Issue Papers for Public Comment

The Maryland Department of the Environment (“the Department”) has developed Marcellus Shale "Issue Papers" that discuss specific topics that generated extensive interest when the Department proposed new regulations for oil and gas exploration and production in January 2015.  The issue papers describe the Department’s current thinking with respect to key issues from the 2015 proposal.  Each issue paper includes an overview of the requirements included in the 2015 proposal and the Department’s tentative suggestions for revising those requirements. 

The Department will be holding three public meetings to discuss these issue papers.  The public meetings are scheduled for:  

·          Wednesday, June 22, 6-8 pm @ Allegany College, Continuing Education Building, 12401 Willowbrook Road, SE,  Room CE 12-14, Cumberland, MD 21502

·          Monday, June 27, 6-8 pm @ MDE Headquarters, Montgomery Park, 1800 Washington Blvd, first floor conference rooms, Baltimore, MD 21230

·         Wednesday, June 29, 6-8 pm @ Garrett College, 687 Mosser Road, Auditorium (Room 715), McHenry, MD 21541

The three public meetings will provide an opportunity for the public to provide comments on the issue papers.  Additionally, comments on the issue papers may be submitted via email or paper mail.  Written comments will be accepted through July 18, 2016 by e-mail at marcellus.mde@maryland.gov or by mail at:

Attn: LMA Director’s Office

Maryland Department of the Environment

1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 610

Baltimore, MD 21230

Based on continuing review and evaluation of the comments received on the issue papers, the Department will propose a revised set of regulations in the Maryland Register in advance of the October 1, 2016 promulgation deadline. Following proposal, the Department will provide an additional 30-day written comment period before taking any final action on the regulations.

Any questions should be directed to Jeffrey Fretwell – jeffrey.fretwell@maryland.gov or 410-537-3537.

Click here to read the issue papers

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