Pro­test­ers rally at state house to op­pose frack­ing

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - By JACK CHAVEZ Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice

AN­NAPO­LIS — With a state mora­to­rium on hy­draulic frac- tur­ing — or “frack­ing” — set to ex­pire in eight months, Mary- land leg­is­la­tors and ac­tivists are throw­ing their sup­port be­hind a per­ma­nent ban.

Ac­tivist group Don’t Frack Mary­land held a rally Feb. 1 in front of the State House in An­napo­lis, and at­tracted sup­port- ers from Mary­land and nearby states who con­tend that frack- ing neg­a­tively im­pacts the envi- ron­ment in places it is used.

“What we want to see is a full, per­ma­nent, statewide frack­ing ban,” Jackie Fil­son, field com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer for D.C.based con­sumer rights group Food & Wa­ter Watch, told the Univer­sity of Mary­land’s Capi- tal News Ser­vice. “Mary­land’s leg­is­la­tors need to know [the harm frack­ing can cause].”

For nearly an hour pro­test­ers shouted slo­gans like “Don’t frack Mary­land, ban frack­ing now” and “Frack­ing’s got to go,” to­ward the State House, where Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) was pre­par­ing to give his third near hy­drauli­cally frac­tured oil and gas pro­duc­tion wells and ranged in sever­ity, from tem­po­rary changes in wa­ter qual­ity to con­tam­i­na­tion that made pri­vate drink­ing wa­ter wells un­us­able.”

Penn­syl­va­nia res­i­dent Craig Stevens says he has par­tic­i­pated in protests in more than a dozen states where frack­ing has had an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

“Frack­ing con­tam­i­na­tion knows no bor­ders,” Stevens said Wed­nes­day.

Frack­ing in­volves pump­ing a mix of wa­ter, sand and chem- icals into deep un­der­ground wells, break­ing apart rocks to ex­tract the nat­u­ral gas stored in­side.

Ho­gan told The Bal­ti­more Sun in Oc­to­ber 2014 that he sup­ports frack­ing be­cause of its po­ten­tial to boost western Mary­land’s econ­omy.

The re­gion has ex­pe­ri­enced slower eco­nomic growth and a higher un­em­ploy­ment rate com­pared to the rest of the state. Frack­ing could add more than 3,000 jobs and about $100 mil­lion in wages if it were al­lowed, ac­cord­ing to a 2014 Tow­son Univer­sity study.

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