New Maryland Coalition Urges Governor O’Malley to Cease the Drafting of Fracking Regulations

For Immediate Release

Environmental Groups:
Contact: 

Food & Water Watch: Julie Gouldener, 443-935-3536, Jgouldener@fwwatch.org
Food & Water Watch: Rich Bindell, 202-683-2457, RBindell@fwwatch.org
Potomac Riverkeeper: Robin Broder, 703-786-8172, robin@potomacriverkeeper.org

 

New Maryland Coalition Urges Governor O’Malley to Cease the Drafting of Fracking Regulations

Marylanders Against Fracking and Delegate Shane Robinson Warn of Fracking’s Negative Impacts

BALTIMORE - State and national groups concerned by Governor O’Malley’s imminent plans to begin drafting fracking regulations launched the Marylanders Against Fracking coalition today to call on the governor to cease any further work to allow fracking in the state. Representatives from Food & Water Watch, Potomac Riverkeeper, Patuxtent Riverkeeper, Montgomery County Young Democrats, Progressive Democrats of America - MD Chapter and Maryland Delegate Shane Robinson held a press conference at Federal Hill Park in Baltimore to introduce the coalition and urge Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley to prohibit fracking throughout the state.

Marylanders Against Fracking, a coalition of state and national groups, criticized the state’s plans to use key parts from a recently completed fracking “best management practices” report to draft the regulations that would apply to fracking in the state.

“It has become clear that the O’Malley administration is intent on beginning to draft fracking regulations this fall,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Food & Water Watch, “The fact that none of the studies that were intended to inform whether or not fracking should take place have actually been completed and that regulation writing is moving forward show that the Governor has already decided fracking is going to happen in Maryland.”

The new coalition pointed out that the targeted completion date for the three promised studies on the potential public health, economic and risk impacts of fracking in Maryland is March 2014. The fact that drafting of regulations has already begun highlights how the administration's Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Advisory Commission is broken.

“We need a wake up call here in Maryland and the region. It seems like the Governor and the legislature have been ignoring science, economics and public opinion as they claim that fracking’s risks can be minimized,” said Robin Broder, vice president of Potomac Riverkeeper. “Fracking consumes massive amounts of water, devastates natural areas and agricultural lands, contaminates water, and fragments forests and communities. There are no good reasons to bring this to Maryland.”

On Sept. 10, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) closed the public comment period on the state’s fracking “best management practices,” a set of guidelines that are meant to inform the state's fracking regulations. But the coalition argued that no set of regulations can adequately protect Maryland residents from the inherent risks associated with fracking.

“Gov. O'Malley has been a leader around the country on addressing climate change and protecting our environment,” said Dave Kunes, president of Montgomery County Young Democrats. “We sincerely hope he will not choose to tarnish his critical legacy by expanding natural gas production in Maryland, and its toxic byproducts, in the final year of his term.”

Sadly, while Maryland waits for informational studies, the state continues to plow ahead with its plan to frack throughout the state. Yesterday, the Obama administration approved Dominion Cove Point LNG LP’s $3.8 million facility on the Chesapeake Bay in Lusby, Md., a terminal that will be used to export domestic gas to countries that don't have a free-trade agreement with the United States, further opening the industry's access to international markets.

“It is bizarre and shocking that the Cove LNG plant has been planning for expansion and among the outcomes will be permanent impacts to the surrounding community on the Patuxent River or on the Chesapeake Bay,” said Patuxent Riverkeeper Fred Tutman. “There has been almost no public exposition of the potential implications beyond local economic gain. There have been no environmental impacts studies, no review of the ripple effects on the energy market, no information about the long-range burdens, and almost no public dialogue about gas lines, toxic chemicals, tanker traffic on the Bay or anything else. It’s time for citizens to make some noise and to start asking the right questions so they can protect their community, their families and the environment.  

“If oil and gas companies have their way, they will frack in our state and poison the Potomac River watershed with arsenic, benzene, radioactives, and other deadly chemicals,” said Mike Hersh Maryland, state coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America. “We can't let them put toxic waste in our drinking water. Water treatment facilities cannot cope with such contamination. If we caught any organized group putting these chemicals into a well, or tampering with bottles of water, or putting these poisons in a public reservoir, we would prosecute them. Yet we actually subsidize big oil and gas companies when they do it. Let’s call on Governor O'Malley to take action now to ban all fracking in Maryland.” 

Montgomery County Delegate Shane Robinson, who introduced a bill that would have prohibited fracking in the 2013 legislative session, expressed his concern over the process to determine if Maryland would allow fracking was being handled.

“Maryland is a small state—regardless of what we do in terms of our own policies, we can’t stop climate change on our own,” said Montgomery County Delegate Shane Robinson. “But what we can do is create a model for other states to adopt. While other states are fracking, drilling and mining the planet towards ecological collapse, we can create a model for an ecologically sustainable future, and stopping fracking is part of that model.” 

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc., a grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 2000, includes the Potomac Riverkeeper and the Shenandoah Riverkeeper. Potomac Riverkeeper stops pollution and restores clean water in the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and their tributaries through community engagement and enforcement of the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws. Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc. has over 2700 members throughout the four states and the District Columbia that comprise the almost 15,000 square mile Potomac watershed. It has offices in DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

Montgomery County Young Democrats strive to attract and develop young people into caring agents of change who commit through political action to working for sustainable and just communities.

Progressive Democrats of America was founded in 2004 to transform the Democratic Party and our country. We seek to build a party and government controlled by citizens, not corporate elites-with policies that serve the broad public interest, not just private interests. As a grassroots PAC operating inside the Democratic Party, and outside in movements for peace and justice, PDA played a key role in the stunning electoral victories of November 2006 and 2008. Our inside/outside strategy is guided by the belief that a lasting majority will require a revitalized Democratic Party built on firm progressive principles.

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