Maryland natural gas is our golden ticket to a prosperous future. However, our brat lawmakers will do anything to stop it.
For quite some time, I have been writing on the buffoonery that Maryland has been facing when it comes to natural gas. We have had a very strange ride attempting to get fracking moving in this state. It reminds me of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in some ways. Here, our state has in its grasp a wonderful golden ticket, but like most of the contestants, greed, ignorance, and pure misrepresentation is causing us to squander this opportunity.
Once again, Baltimore County Senator, Bobby Zirkin has put a bill in place to make the Maryland two-year moratorium on fracking a full on ban. What is worse than this bulldog doing everything he can to extend his own political powers is that 23 other senators are backing the bill.
This is completely ludicrous. In fact, it is outright laughable. Fredrick County’s Ron Young, Democrat for District 3 states he is opposed for two reasons: one he thinks the fracking industry’s water use could deplete the state’s supply of the natural resource. Secondly, fracking could hurt tourism in Western Maryland. You have to ask yourself for the first agenda: what the heck is he saying? Deplete the state’s natural resource? Does he have any idea how little water fracking uses compares to other activities, including coal production? Has he considered the value of the gas resource; one that could help prevent climate change, reduce our use of coal and provides jobs? Has he ever looked at tourism stats in areas with drilling compared to those without it?
Fredrick County doesn’t have gas, of course, so Young is free to demagogue. We have seen this before in New Jersey and even more recently in Maryland’s Prince George’s County. Lawmakers, who have nothing to immediately lose and an a hunger to pander jump on a bandwagon to gain additional political capital. Interestingly, though, Young is supporting an extended moratorium over the outright ban. While Fredrick County doesn’t have readily available gas reserves, a strip of the shale extends into Young’s turf and if technologies advance enough, they might be able to get to some, but not for a while, so maybe he’s hedging his bets just a little. Politicians must be nimble.
Fractivists are the opposite; they are true believers who pretend to be something else. I have reported here on many op-eds authored by “concerned citizens” who simply turned out to be part of the “Don’t Frack Maryland” gang of ideologies. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see a quite different opinion piece that came to my attention recently from David Stokes, business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 710. He wrote a great op-ed piece for the Capital Gazette.
Mr. Stokes describes the current turbulence within the Democratic Party. Their own out of touch to blue-collar workers cost them the presidential election and for Maryland, gave rise to the second Republican Governor since 1969. He calls out his fellow Democrats in a way others cannot, but which is refreshing:
Some of my fellow Democrats are pushing to ban innovative efforts to recover natural gas through hydraulic fracturing. This unwise pandering to environmentalist special interests in our party will block a new industry that has created tens of thousands of good-paying, family-sustaining jobs in Pennsylvania — including for thousands of union members like my brothers and sisters in the Laborers International Union of North America.
I love it and he goes on to say this in regard to Maryland’s golden ticket,
[Western Maryland’s] Unemployment is higher, opportunities are fewer, and the decline of manufacturing and mining has left families struggling to make it on retail and service wages that are far below what they were once able to earn. Safely recovering the natural gas under their land is one of their best opportunities for a middle-class life.
I completely agree with Mr. Stokes’ opinion. When you take a look at the state of Maryland, you see that as a state average, only 33% of households earn less than $50,000 annually. When it comes to the two main counties in Maryland that contain gas reserves, Garrett and Allegany Counties, the number shoots up to 54.4% and 59.1% respectively. Fracking would help right those numbers, given the average job in the Pennsylvania fracking industry pays $93,000 in total compensation.
Maryland was lucky enough to have a sliver of hope when we realized we had gas reserves worthwhile to explore. The wonders of the industry are at our fingertips and as long as we do not spoil our chances. We just need to tell these guys like Zirkin to stop being spoiled brats.