But while we're experiencing a fracking free-for-all, New York and Maryland are waiting for long-term health studies before they allow toxic fracking to drill its claws in their neighborhoods and they are looking a Pennsylvania as an example of what not to do. Last week there were events in the state capitals of Albany and Annapolis. In NY the citizens presented the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation with over 200,000 comments, on the last day of a public comment period on the gas drilling process.
In MD, CCAN hosted a “Water Taste Test” with water from a Butler County well for the new legislative session. A week later MD Gov. Martin O'Malley announced that his 2014 budget includes $1.5 million to study the environmental affects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state.
Below is a report from MOB member Debbie Bell about the January 9th event in Maryland that she attended.
You never know when you will have an opportunity to attend an anti-drilling event. Imagine my surprise on Jan. 8th, while visiting my daughter and her family in Maryland, when I checked my Facebook and read about such an event happening the following morning in Annapolis – and I was only 20 minutes away.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network was holding a “Water Taste Test” on Lawyer’s Mall, outside of the Maryland Capitol building. This event coincided with the first day of the 2013 Maryland General Assembly session. The reason for this event was to encourage the delegates to pass a legislative moratorium on fracking and to highlight the risks that fracking poses to drinking water. The way it was done was an ingenious approach to raise awareness to the delegates heading into the Capitol building. The delegates were invited to a “Water Taste Test” to sample water from several sources.
Sample # 1 was actually from the home in the Woodlands neighborhood of Butler County. When Megan Jenny, MD field coordinator for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, held the murky, tea colored water jug up and explained the source, I could hear lots of “yucks” and “oh mys” coming from those in attendance.
Sample # 2 was another sample from Pennsylvania, this one from Bedford County. It was marked as an “At-risk” sample from an area where in November 2011, a natural gas compressor station had exploded.
Sample # 3 had been drawn from the State House that morning.
Sample # 4 was from Western Maryland, and was marked as “At Risk” since that is where the gas companies want to drill.
The interesting thing was that in order to take a drink of Samples # 1 & 2, people were asked to sign a waiver. Needless to say, not one person even considered taking a sip of either of those 2 samples. The only bottle that anyone would taste was from Sample # 3, and there weren’t many brave souls willing to even try that.
Not being from Maryland, I’m not sure who the delegates were that stopped by. I do know that Maryland’s US Senator Ben Cardin joined the group and talked to several supporters. He spoke of national standards for the drilling industry rather than each state using different standards.
The highlight for me was when Delegate Heather Mizeur spoke to the crowd. She is calling for a moratorium on drilling until scientific risk studies are completed. As she held up the water from the Woodlands, she stated, “We don’t want this in Maryland.”
Let’s hope that Maryland looks closely at their neighboring states and learn from the mistakes that have been made.