Despite increased gas development, West Virginia facing big deficits

According to the sfgate.com article published last week, West Virginia is struggling to meet its budget even with increased gas development.  

According to the article:

The state projects a government budget deficit of $400 million next year amid anemic tax collections. Meanwhile, some 18 percent of West Virginia's 1.8 million people live under the federal poverty line and the unemployment rate hovers at 6 percent, fully a point higher than the national average.

Lawmakers and citizens compare the economics of the extraction of gas in the state to that of coal in previous decades.  "If coal's been king it hasn't taken very good care of its subjects. We're the poorest state in the nation," said Sen. Jeffrey Kessler, the outgoing Senate Democratic minority leader.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/West-Virginia-confronts-cash-shortage-despite-10840434.php

 

 

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Volunteer Training for Citizens

Learn how to activate neighbors and legislators on the fracking issue in 2017

Learn how to organize and lead outreach and education efforts in your communities and in the state legislature.

Together we have worked to dispel the myth that Western Marylanders want harmful fracking in our communities. We have stood together and banned fracking in Mountain Lake Park, Friendsville, and Frostburg.

Now it’s time to take that message to Annapolis.

Join us for our volunteer meeting this Saturday, January 7th as we chart our way to ban fracking in Maryland.

What: Volunteer Training for outreach and action on Fracking

When:  2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m,

Where: St. John’s Episcopal Church, 52 South Broadway,
Frostburg, Maryland.

At the meeting you will have the opportunity to hear from leaders who banned fracking in their communities as well as learn how we can take this message to Annapolis.

Join the movement and volunteer today.

From educating your neighbors to marching in Annapolis — it will take all of us working to ensure that our communities, our families and our climate remains safe.

RSVP on Facebook, or just show up!
https://www.facebook.com/events/278825569187228/

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Thanks, Baltimore Sun

Today the Baltimore Sun posted an editorial calling for a statewide ban on fracking in Maryland.  The Sun called "a ban on fracking a win-win for everyone."

THANK YOU, BALTIMORE SUN

Read the Sun's commentary here. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-fracking-20170102-story.html

 

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Frostburg, MD votes for fracking ban to protect water resources

“I think it is one of the finest examples of citizen democracy that you can find anywhere,” Nina Forsythe, a member of the citizen group, said. “It’s citizens coming together about an issue they really care about and affecting policy.” From the Cumberland Times-News

And here is the press release from DontFrackMD.org:

Frostburg Approves Fracking Ban Measures, Becoming the Largest Western Md. City to Protect Water from Toxic Drilling

 

City Council approves measures to ban fracking on city-owned land near critical water supplies and to ban the sale of water for fracking

Frostburg, Md. — The city of Frostburg tonight became the largest municipality in western Maryland to take local action to ban fracking. The Frostburg City Council voted unanimously to approve two measures designed to protect local water supplies from the toxic drilling practice. The Garrett County towns of Friendsville and Mountain Lake Park have also banned fracking.

The first Frostburg measure bans fracking on city-owned land in neighboring Garrett County that supplies the drinking water of thousands of Allegany County citizens. The second measure bans bulk sales of water by the city for the purposes of fracking. Both measures will go into effect after 15 days.

The vote followed months of organizing by the citizens’ group Frack-Free Frostburg, which gathered over 700 petitions and turned out hundreds of residents to rallies and hearings.

“Frostburg residents have sought out this citizens’ campaign, and the movement built over time,” said Kathy Powell, a Frostburg business co-owner and founding member of Frack-Free Frostburg. “We thank city officials for listening to their constituents and taking action to protect the city and our water supply from the harms of fracking.”

Frostburg joins a growing statewide movement of counties, cities, and citizens working to ban fracking across Maryland as the 2017 General Assembly session nears.

More than a dozen localities in Maryland have now approved or introduced measures to either ban fracking locally or to endorse a permanent, statewide ban. The list includes the western Maryland towns of Friendsville and Mountain Lake Park, the counties of Prince George’s, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, and Frederick, and the cities of Baltimore, Rockville, and Greenbelt.

“With a local ban saying 'NO' to fracking, we aren't just saying 'YES' to a better quality of life — we are making sure it happens,” said Kit Pepper, a supporter of the Frostburg campaign. “We hope this provides a further push to state leaders to protect all of Maryland’s communities from fracking’s water pollution, compromised air quality, and poisoned, toxic well sites.”

Polling shows that, by a 2-to-1 margin, voters across Maryland support statewide legislation to ban fracking. Unless the General Assembly passes a permanent, statewide ban next year, Governor Larry Hogan’s administration could allow fracking to begin after October 2017, when the state’s moratorium will expire.

“A groundswell of support is building across Maryland to ban fracking,” said Brooke Harper, Maryland Field Director at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and whose family roots are in Frostburg. “In 2017, it’s time for the General Assembly to follow the lead of western Maryland citizens and cities like Frostburg and pass a permanent, statewide ban.”

 

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Thank you, from Citizen Shale

With the support of our members and friends, we have continued to grow and succeed in our mission to protect Maryland communities from the harmful effects of fracking!

Let's continue to work together

CITIZEN SHALE formed in 2011 as landmen came to our western Maryland communities, offering leases for shale gas development using a new and highly invasive technology: Fracking. Citizen Shale members worked quickly and diligently to acquire information about how to protect ourselves by organizing and insisting on public discourse. We were instrumental in Gov. O’Malley’s decision to study the practice before permitting it in Maryland.

Maryland has never allowed fracking. But next year that could change, as our two-year moratorium ends in October 2017. Now is the time to redouble our efforts and ensure permanent protection from what we know now is an extreme form of energy extraction that, research shows, endangers human health and the natural environment.

Citizen Shale has been the only western Maryland group solely focused on the potential far-reaching effects of shale gas development.

Collaborating with our Don't Frack Maryland partners, we've made great strides at turning fracking into a state-wide issue. Our more than 100 local, state, and national organizations achieved the nation's first legislated fracking moratorium.

Citizen Shale's accomplishments include:

  • Helping fund the first comprehensive poll on fracking in Maryland. It found that 56% of voters support a ban (using legislation planned in 2017 and supported by Citizen Shale), with the margin among Garrett Countians even slightly higher;    
  • Bringing Academy Award nominee, Gasland director Josh Fox to Frostburg for a screening of his new documentary, as a capacity audience enjoyed an evening of music, art, and activism (That's Josh on banjo, with the “Expanda-band" above);     
  • Facilitating a citizen-led monitoring project in and around the Accident Dome natural gas storage field;    
  • Serving as principal organizer of a two-day forum on fracking by the Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee at Garrett College attended by some 450 concerned citizens.    
  • Coordinating the western Maryland component of the Human Cost of Energy Production with Environmental Integrity Project photographers to raise awareness about fracking’s impacts on communities, and culminating in a public showing in Washington, D.C. and via National Geographic media. 

Our all-volunteer board works to keep citizens up to date about the impacts of fracking and about new developments in the debate in Maryland and around the world. We travel to dozens of meetings and events across the state, and organize numerous outreach programs — large and small — including films, speakers, tours and public presentations. 

Within a few weeks, you'll be able to follow our progress via a brand new website.  Also, stay up-to-date through our regular e-mailed communications, and join our conversation on facebook.

Again, thanks for making your tax-deductible contribution to Citizen Shale today!

Please make your check payable to: 
Chesapeake Climate Action Network (our fiscal sponsor)

Send Checks to:
Citizen Shale
c/o 177 Frazee Ridge Road
Friendsville, MD 21531

 

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Comments on proposed Fracking Regs Due This Week

What: Public comments on the proposed updated regulations for oil and gas development by the Maryland Department of Environment

•    Proposed Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Regulations

•    Proposed Regulations Summary Document

When: Due this Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016

The Maryland Department of the Environment under Gov. Larry Hogan published updated regulations allowing hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the Nov. 14, 2016, edition of the Maryland Register. According to MDE, “The proposed regulations will ensure that any exploration and production of oil and gas is conducted in a manner protective of public health, safety, the environment, and natural resources.” (emphasis added)

Comments on this regulatory proposal will be accepted through Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016.

Write and Send public comments to: 

Jeffrey Fretwell, Director, Legislative and Intergovernmental Relations 

Maryland Department of the Environment

1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21230 

or call 410-537-3537

or fax to 410-537-3888.

or email to Marcellus.mde@maryland.gov,

cs_blast_regs_box

•INDUSTRIALIZATION: No regulation can prevent the change in rural character that occurs when fracking begins. Thousands of trucks transporting equipment and hazardous materials to sites across western Maryland will not go unnoticed by visitors and residents. Flaring wells, roaring drill rigs and compressor stations, hazardous traffic, higher crime rates, and permanent pipeline clear cuts across forested vistas will industrialize western Maryland and forever change what attracts visitors and investments to the area: the perception that this place is unspoiled and special.

•ECONOMY: No drilling setback has been proven to mitigate loss of value to residential property. Neither state, nor county government have done a full cost/benefit analysis of how fracking will effect the value of our homes; those values constitute a large portion of the property tax base, the revenue from which supports our county schools and emergency and social services. Without an analysis of how fracking will reduce jobs and income in the tourism, recreation and second-home real estate sectors, it is not possible to claim that fracking can provide economic benefits to the majority of local citizens or to the state.

•PUBLIC SAFETY: Garrett County has the second-highest car crash fatality rate in the state, before adding heavy industrial traffic from fracking. The transportation plans required in MDE’s regulations (.33) use vague language like “minimize”, “avoid”, and “if practicable”; plans do not require that roads and road shoulders be assessed for adequacy to handle high volumes of industrial vehicle traffic, nor that sites be accessible by more than one route. All but main arteries in Garrett are undersized and not built for industrial truck traffic.

•SEISMIC RISKS NOT ADDRESSED: Regulations fail to incorporate ongoing Maryland Geological Survey (MGS) research on the hydrogeology of western Maryland that began in 2014. Groundwater migration and fault-mapping studies reveal the unpredictability of water migration in the region’s largely unconfined, fractured rock aquifers. MGS has already mapped faulting from the Marcellus layer to the surface in the Accident and Deep Creek Lake quadrangles. MGS recommends baseline seismic study in all areas before drilling is permitted. Horizontal drilling would be permitted beneath all drinking water reservoirs in Garrett County, as well as Deep Creek Lake. Has the State addressed effects of induced seismicity on the structural integrity of reservoir dams?

•REGULATIONS NOT BASED UPON CURRENT SCIENCE: Our knowledge of fracking’s impacts to our health and environment has grown exponentially since the state’s fracking study commission ended in 2014. Over 900 peer-reviewed studies have been published, yet the current regulations take a tiny fraction of this new data into account. Issue papers released by MDE stated that regulations are based on MDE’s 2013 Best Management Practices Report; the most current research citations in this report date from 2012 and only two health studies are cited.

UPDATE: And just this week we have one more critical piece of information: MDE's regulations do not take into account the findings of EPA's Final Report on Impacts from Hydraulic Fracturing Activities on Drinking Water Resources. EPA’s report concludes that hydraulic fracturing activities CAN impact drinking water resources under some circumstances and identifies factors that influence more frequent and severe impacts. The report also identifies uncertainties and data gaps that limited EPA’s ability to fully assess impacts.  

•ASSESSMENT & MONITORING PROTOCOLS INCOMPLETE: Regulations include several areas that promise “the Department shall develop” (.51-C, .19-C) guidance for various assessment and monitoring protocols. If the state has not yet determined staffing and funding needs for these programs — including gathering critical specifications for analysis and data submission, monitoring and assessment for water quality, terrestrial and aquatic living resources, and geophysical assessments — how do we know that permitting fees proposed are sufficient?

•REGULATIONS & THE SHALE PLAYING FIELD ARE NOT SET IN STONE: Putting our faith in regulated drilling is no guarantee of protections. If the state of Maryland allows fracking to go forward, regulations and other laws intended—theoretically—to strengthen the regulatory playing field can be weakened and amended by the General Assembly with pressure from the gas industry or other parties. The Administration can also roll back protections in critical areas.

•NO CONFIDENCE IN MONITORING AND ENFORCEMENT: The state could pass the strongest-possible regulations for fracking, but they mean nothing if the state lacks capacity to enforce them. The burden of monitoring and enforcement will likely fall on under-resourced local communities. MDE officials during the Marcellus Safe Drilling Initiative actually stated that citizens would need to be "the eyes and ears of enforcement." Is that your job? Since Gov. Hogan took office, MDE has seen at least 18 months of cuts to its budget and staffing. It is likely these cuts will continue in 2017. Since MDE has not yet developed monitoring and assessment protocols (still TBD, see “Assessment & Monitoring” above), it is not known whether permitting fees set forth in regulation are adequate to fund staffing and monitoring responsibilities.

•ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE & EQUAL PROTECTION: Garrett County does not have county-wide performance zoning that would allow some control over placement of fracking sites. Allegany County recently updated zoning ordinances to ALLOW fracking in all zones, including areas zoned residential. MDE's regulations prohibit drilling (.20) in three watersheds for municipal drinking water sources and for Deep Creek Lake, leaving the rest of western Maryland open for development. If fracking might cause harm in these watersheds, it has the same potential for harm in all areas. Residents outside protected watersheds are deprived of equal protection.

Tuesday December 20, 9:30 am. Annapolis, MD

Attend our press conference prior to the Adminstrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR) committee hearing on the proposed regualtions for fracking in Maryland.  More info on this event: https://www.facebook.com/events/716531401862253/

 

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Washington Post misinformed about popular opinion on Fracking

This week the Washington Post published an article that suggested possible alternatives to fracking ban bills that might be proposed during the 2017 session in Annapolis, Maryland.  Since a fracking ban bill has not been written, the Post led Maryland policy-makers in a conversation of hypotheticals. But in so doing exposed the misinformed position of at least one legislator from western MD.  Del Jason Buckel was quoted saying he did not believe there was significant opposition to fracking in western Maryland.  Read the full Washington Post article here.

Citizen Shale's Paul Roberts responded in a letter to the editor today, describing a number of public events and comments in which the vast majority of residents present openly opposed fracking for health, environmental, and economic reasons.  Read Roberts' letter here.

 

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Latest on Health Risks of Fracking

Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility has published a new paper analyzing the latest research and reports on health impacts of fracking.

"The peer-reviewed scientific literature now includes more than 700 studies on the impacts of unconventional gas development; most were published in just the last three years. Of the studies looking specifically at health impacts, more than 80 percent document risks or actual harms."

Health impacts observed include: endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure, cardiac and neurological damage, respiratory issues, skin irritations, high-risk pregnancies, and premature births.

Link:

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/54949381e4b05fcc6a96c5c6/t/57f698edc534a51b9098b9f9/1475778798615/HealthEffectsofFrackingBriefChesapeakePSROctober2016DontFrackMD.pdf

 

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Public Event: Monday Nov 14 Economics and Fracking in Western MD

Join Citizen Shale and Delegate David Fraser- Hidalgo for an Open House and Presentation on Fracking's impact on our Economy and Tourism.

Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo will be Citizen Shale's featured guest this Monday Nov 14 for an event to help educate and inform western Maryland business leaders about the upcoming legislative session.  

The open house and networking event begins at 3 p.m. at 20330 Garrett Highway in Deep Creek Lake (on 219 between Bill’s Marine and Lakeside Creamery.) Del. Fraser-Hidalgo will arrive in the late afternoon, and make a formal presentation at 7 p.m. Citizen Shale representatives will be present all day to answer questions about fracking and its potential affects on the local economy. 

This is an opportunity for people in the tourism, recreation, farming and real estate sectors to speak directly with an influential legislator about concerns over fracking. Business owners can also use the opportunity to sign on to a statewide campaign of Business Leaders Against Fracking, or join the effort on-line at this link 

Fraser-Hidalgo's appearance is part of the Don't Frack Maryland Coalition's WEEK OF ACTION.

"We know there is strong opposition to fracking in Garrett County,” Fraser-Hidalgo said. “We’ve seen the polling. I look forward to hearing from businesses who fear they have so much to lose."

The Montgomery County Democrat was appointed by Del. Kumar Barve, chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, to lead a year-long, bi-partisan subcommittee investigation of fracking's potential affects.

Chairman Barve has stated publicly that he wants to see a fracking ban pass the General Assembly in 2017. The legislation would be introduced in his committee.

 

Participate in Week Of Action Nov 14-18

The #DontFrackMD Coalition is organizing a WEEK OF ACTION! Hundreds of people across Maryland will come out November 14-18 to show support for a fracking ban during the upcoming legislative session.

You can find events on a Maryland map, here: http://www.dontfrackmd.org/week-of-action/

There will be a second event in western Maryland on November 17 directed toward local officials in Frostburg.

 

 

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ACTION: Meeting re Frostburg, MD Proposed Ban on Thursday Nov 10

Special Meeting to Advance a
Proposed Fracking Ban Ordinance 

On Thursday, November 10th, the Frostburg City Council will be holding a special session with members of Frack-Free Frostburg.  That meeting will determine if a proposed fracking  ban ordinance moves forward or not. 

Frack Free Frostburg has been working for the adoption of a municipal ordinance in the city of Frostburg that would ban fracking, both within the city limits and on city-owned land in Garrett County surrounding the city’s water supply.  According to community organizers, Frostburg is the largest municipality in the Marcellus Shale region in Maryland, and it supplies water to over 12,000 residents of western Allegany County. The city has invested over $5 million in recent years to enhance and protect the city’s water supply, which lies in Garrett County.

Over 600 individuals and 24 business owners in Frostburg have signed petition asking for the ban in Frostburg and on city-owned land.

At last month's City Council meeting almost 200 citizens attended calling for a ban within the city. Frostburg residents and allies must continue to show up in big numbers to show the City Council that they have the full support of their community to move ahead with a ban.  Please RSVP now pass on the link to and invite your neighbors!

Join Frack Free Frostburg on November 10th to take the next critical step toward a ban on fracking in Frostburg.  RSVP here to let organizers know you are coming. There will be a  a press conference directly ahead of the Thursday meeting.

Who should be there? Everyone who wants to protect Frostburg's water from fracking
What: Press Conference and City Council Meeting to determine the fate of the Frostburg Fracking Ban Ordinance.
When: Thursday, November 10, 2016.
5:30 pm Press conference 
6:00 pm City Council Special Session

Where: Frostburg Community Center, 27 South Water Street, Frostburg, MD

Across the state, we are building momentum for a statewide ban. Frederick County recently passed a resolution to support a statewide ban. And in Baltimore City and other cities across Maryland, ban bills and resolutions are moving forward. Recent polling shows that Marylanders want to ban fracking in our state –by a 2 to1 margin. 

Join us on November 10th to keep up the momentum for a frack-free future in Maryland, starting with a frack free Frostburg. RSVP at this link:  ttp://org.salsalabs.com/o/423/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=97981 

TAKE ACTION and SHARE this meeting info on facebook
https://www.facebook.com/events/1736526616673458/

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