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William Neil
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For my framing of the issues before us with Fracking in Western, MD, which should be banned statewide in Annapolis this coming session, I keep going back to Governor Hogan’s Inaugural and State of the State addresses from early 2015.

If it is true that Maryland is a “Middle Temperament State,” and that Governor Hogan wants to govern that way, then he ought to ban fracking for good. Fracking isn’t a “Middle Temperament” process. It originated in the volcanic process called “creative destruction,” the same one that brought us mortgage backed derivatives, a product of the private sector, governmental and academic research and science, which is to say, under today’s reigning philosophy of Neoliberalism, it is dominated by the private sector, not the government or unpurchased science driven research, much less the wishes of citizens. In its nature it is closer to a violent water boarding of nature, and with toxic fluids, not just water, the underground equivalent of mountain top removal in West Virginia.
Fracking is promoted to citizens with a standing which surely Tom Paine would recognize as resembling the old “divine right” of monarchs, whether in the faux constitutional form of George III or the fiats of Louis XVI. How dare we question what the private sector of oil and gas promotes?

Their divine right and anti-democratic posture is exemplified by their out-of-the gate exemptions in 2005 for fracking from national environmental laws and their gagging of citizens right to know what is in their toxic injections, and even as they were about to lose jury trials in PA and Texas this year, their lawyers were busy binding and gagging compensated victims of their toxicity with “non-disclosure agreements.”

We opponents of fracking have watched what has unfolded in West Virginia and Pennsylvania: regulatory capture, the highest environmental jobs going to industry friendly anti-regulatory types. Citizens and journalists have had to don miner’s lamps and take up picks and shovels to get at the truths of the impacts from fracking buried by regulators who have turned their back upon citizens’ pleas. And we have watched at the national level as time and time again EPA has let science be captured by industry funded studies or diverted to industry captured state level “regulators.”

We have seen this scenerio before: in the historic struggles of citizens to uncover the truth about pesticides, smoking, asbestos, endocrine disruptors, and most recently, Round-up.

If Western Maryland residents want to preserve their shared vision of the mountain rural, then join us in asking our delegation to ban fracking because it will surely destroy the vistas and the very environmental basis of what we say we cherish.

The idea that the government of Larry Hogan, who said in his Inaugural Speech on January 21, 2015, that “we must get the state government off our backs, and out of our pockets, so that we can grow the private sector” is going to be a tough regulator of one of the most powerful private sector industries in the world is unbelievable - no more believable than the state of Maryland’s historically futile gestures to control the chicken manure from Purdue and other big chicken processors, despite everyone’s professed love for the Chesapeake Bay.

And fracking, by its very toxic and explosive nature, its 24/7 industrial intensity, cannot be regulated even by better, good faith attempts – which is far from what has unfolded nationally or next door to us over the past seven years.

I will close with an observation directed to our delegation’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge the changing facts on the ground: citizens’ opinions here about fracking and also the changing science on methane, which has abolished natural gas’ claim to be the bridge to the alternative fuel future. Mrs. Clinton might also have paid attention to this shift, but didn’t. The great economist John Maynard Keynes was allegedly asked why he had changed his position on a major issue of the day in the economically catastrophic 1930’s. His reply was that “when the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?”


I hope that’s what our delegation does as well, instead of continuing to dwell in the land of magical thinking that is the Republican Right of today, traditional and alt, in regards to economics and the science of global warming.


ISpeech addressed to Delegat Buckel on Nov. 16th, at Allegany College public event with the Annapolis Delegation from Western MD

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William Neil commented on a post on Blogger.
In Maryland, reps of the Dept. of the Environment in late June were promoting Pennsylvania as a model for Maryland fracking: 
Here's my comment below based on findings from fracking violations in PA...not a pretty sight...and PA wants to weaken their laws...??

 Fracking was rigged at the top, at the federal level, right out of the gate in 2005 by arbitrarily announcing that its toxicities were not toxic and had immunity from most federal standards for waste...and by shielding fracking polluters from legal action by hiding the toxic chemicals used in the process from scrutiny, even gagging doctors and first responders.  Even when some  claimants successfully settle with polluters, as in the case of Cabot Oil and Gas in Dimock, Pa...companies still try to gag citizen victims..The Desmogblog reported on March 10, 2016 "that the defendant in the lawsuit, Cabot Oil and Gas, had strenuously denied that it had caused any harm to the plaintiffs or their drinking water.  In 2012, the company reached a settlement with roughly 40 other residents along Carter road...but the terms of that settlement were never made public and included a 'non-disparagement  clause that prevents those who settled from speaking out about their experience with Cabot."  Fortunately, some individuals held out and won a substantial settlement after many years of expensive litigation against Cabot: $4.2 million in a jury settlement.

Here are the lessons I draw from PA's experience with fracking' it's a warning Maryland not to have any illusions that regulations will protect them, tough or illusionary regs:

"Let's set the framework for the Hogan administration properly. His first two major addresses as Governor openly declared that he wanted to get regulators off the back of businesses - large and small - in Maryland. And to lower taxes and fees. Benjamin Grumbles may proclaim a tough regulatory regime, but the facts of who has previously employed him are that George W. Bush and the conservative Gov. of Arizona were hardly zealous environmental regulators. At the first public hearing this summer on the outline of the now released regs, Pennsylvania was put forth as a regulatory model; in reality that state has been a fracking nightmare, and readers who want something closer to reality should check out this summary article from the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, which demonstrates why a ban on fracking is the only proper response to protect public health and the public commons of air and water resources. Here is the link to the article: http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/latest-oil-and-gas/2014/08/02/Drillers-did-not-report-half-of-spills-that-led-to-fines-2/stories/201408020143  The title says it all: drillers did not report half of spills that led to fines.
 
 These dynamics hit close to home. The City of Frostburg, MD sold its water to gas-fracker Samson Resources of Houston in 2009 to drill two sites in Somerset County,  PA, and it wasn't hard to find out that Samson racked up eight violations and $35,000 in fines in Somerset, which included the two sites Frostburg facilitated. http://www.fracktrack.org/searchexp.php?p=op_name&val=OGO-39006#top  
 The city is now spending $5,000 per year to monitor for fracking pollutants, among others. Since Frostburg only controls about 25% of their watershed lands, the conclusion I draw is that regulations don't work. A ban will."

These comments were posted in the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post in response to articles about Maryland's new fracking regs proposed under Repub. Gov. Larry Hogan. 
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