When it comes to fracking, Maryland is unique. Along with New York and a few countries, no fracking wells have been drilled in western Maryland. Though our state’s natural gas lies west below Garrett and Alleghany counties, deciding to frack or not will most likely be decided in our General Assembly. All Marylanders will play a role in choosing whether to frack or not.
There’s time to get up-to-speed on fracking’s realities since Maryland’ General Assembly legislated a fracking moratorium until October 1, 2017. Fracking’s a fairly complicated topic. Here at Baltimore Fishbowl we plan to publish stories that break fracking down into bite-sized chunks, and lay out key issues that don’t often pop up in the media.
Since our sister states, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, are roughly one decade into fracking, we’re starting at the end. What’s happened over time to homeowners living near fracking wells? What’s happened when something went wrong? Who helped, and were any damages fixed? It’s estimated that 15 million Americans live near our country’s 100,000 fracking wells.
The gift that Baltimore doesn’t need: Marcellus Shale’s fracking air pollution. We don’t even frack in Maryland, but University of Maryland scientists recently discovered that doesn’t matter. Published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, their research reveals that toxic air pollution from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia’s 10,000+ fracking wells floats right over to, you guessed it, Baltimore. This isn’t good, people.
If Targa Resources has its way, “oil bomb” trains will rumble through Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on their way to the company’s proposed Curtis Bay oil storage facility. The same type of oil trains that exploded in West Virginia this week may already be chugging through Baltimore, but no one knows for sure if that’s true or not. Let’s take a look at how our country’s fracking boom may put thousands of Maryland homes squarely in a potential oil train blast zone and also learn who’s trying to protect Maryland’s citizens.
“What’s that smell?”
I asked that question when I caught a whiff of metallic gas while standing in Lyndia’s front yard. Her house is four hours west of Baltimore in West Union, a town in Doddridge County, West Virginia. Ten active fracking wells sit within one mile of her home.
Doddridge County is a hot spot in our country’s fracking boom. I visited the fracking fields there last June to learn first-hand what it’s like to be a “fracking neighbor.” I define fracking neighbor as someone who lives near a natural gas hydrofracturing, a.k.a. fracking, well. According to the Wall Street Journal, 15.3 million people live within one mile of a fracking well. In only nine years, five percent of Americans are now fracking neighbors, and that’s because 100,000 fracking wells have been drilled across 31 states.
This week, cheerleaders once again made the headlines, and strange Baltimore discoveries were right under our nose. It’s the Week in Review for Nov. 7-14: Read More →
As Marylanders have been pushing for wind energy, installing compact fluorescent lightbulbs and shelling out storm water and ‘flush’ fees to clean the Chesapeake Bay, our federal government approved a massive energy project here in Maryland that couldn’t be farther from “eco-friendly.” Read More →
Tech transfer has always been one of those holy grails: you hear of success stories from academic institutions in Boston, Texas, Silicon Valley, but rarely hear the names of universities closer to home. With predictable frequency, some study or another reminds us of the drop off in Maryland between university innovation (where we score off the charts) and commercialization (where we don’t even make the playoffs). Read More →
If I could put on my paranoid-conspiracy-theorist helmet for moment (it helps me shut out the government’s hypnotizing radio waves), I have to admit I’m suspicious of the $1.5 million hydraulic fracturing study that Gov. Martin O’Malley is budgeting for. O’Malley stated that the study is needed to establish a “responsible environmental standard” for fracking in Maryland — which seems to assume beforehand that the study will not determine fracking to be unacceptable in all cases, that it will merely advise on how to frack. Read More →
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