Republicans in Congress and the Trump Administration are saying “regulatory reform” a lot. They are using this innocuous label to hide that their agenda poses a direct threat to clean water and more.
This has been an action-packed month and a half in Annapolis. Crossover is now looming, when all bills have to clear one of the sides of our General Assembly and move over to the other body. Here is the status of our legislative priorities:
We lost the Pinelands.
Just like that; the Pinelands Commission in lockstep with Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg, struck down 40-years of carefully crafted protections last month that would keep industry out of the fragile forest preserve.
One wonders if those who voted in favor of the 22-mile, high speed gas pipeline even know the definition of the word “precedent,” which four past governors and the architects of the comprehensive management plan tried to drive home in letters to the commissioners.
It’s back, just like a bad dream. The highly controversial South Jersey Natural Gas application for a 23-mile, mile gas pipeline through the protected Pinelands forest preserve is back on the burner.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking has become quite the hot button issue, not just in the entire country, but also especially in Maryland. This invasive and dangerous method for obtaining natural gas could soon find its way to the state. In 2015 the Maryland General Assembly passed a two-year moratorium or ban on fracking. However this temporary ban will be lifted in October 2017 and the Hogan administration seems more than eager to move forward with fracking in the state once the moratorium is lifted.
On November 1st the Baltimore City Council public hearing featured an often very controversial issue, fracking. At the hearing bills are voted on by a committee after public testimony to see if they will be voted on at a full city council meeting. Two different pieces of legislature involving fracking, first a resolution from the city to recommend banning fracking statewide and second a ban on fracking in the city of Baltimore, were brought to the committee. The invasive form of drilling for natural gas is known to contaminate water supplies and cause earthquakes.
When Marylanders consider the risk of fracking in our state, we usually think of the Western Maryland counties – Washington, Alleghany, and Garret – that lie above the Marcellus Gas Basin. But smaller gas basins cross all parts of our state, including two in Frederick County. The Culpeper Basin stretches north from Virginia beneath Adamstown and Ballenger Creek to southern Frederick City; the Gettysburg Basin comes south from Pennsylvania beneath the Monocacy River touching Emmitsburg, Thurmont, and the northern edge of Frederick City including parts of Fort Detrick. All together, 19% of Frederick County has frackable gas beneath it – and that puts our farms, rivers, and drinking water at risk.
Highlights from some of Clean Water's favorite insights and developments this year in the world of oil and gas, drinking water protection and climate change.