One year from now the Maryland fracking expires. Despite tougher regulations, fractivists still aren’t happy about Maryland fracking, though.
Fall is among us here in Maryland. We are casually preparing for a new winter as we eat our last blue crabs of the season, sip on pumpkin spiced everything, and watch our state’s government spin its wheels while trying to figure out fracking regulations.
We were promised that a new plan for natural gas development would be here this October and the state delivered with the most stringent rules ever proposed on gas development. Yet some fractivists, not happy to see any progress on the subject, still say the rules don’t go far enough.
One year from now, the statewide moratorium on fracking expires. Maryland’s Secretary of the Environment, Ben Grumbles said that the state would be moving forward with “balanced” regulations by October, 2017. The state hosted several public forums to listen to the citizens and made a few proposals
At first we were expecting the state to miss the deadline. The Baltimore Sun released a very biased article on this subject just days before they released the proposals. Riddled with misconceptions about ground water contamination and earthquakes, the article seems to have taken a page from the Factivist Handbook for Dummies. Once you cut through the inflammatory fluff, there is this all too typical quote by Josh Tulkin, Director of the Maryland Sierra Club, another fractivist determined to make sure nothing happens.
“If they don’t have enough capacity to write the regulations, how can we believe they’ll have enough capacity to effectively implement all of the safeguards?”
Using such nonsensical logic, fractivists are saying this strengthens the case for a permanent ban. Combine this with the ridiculous bans that Friendsville and Prince George’s County have put in place and you start to see how this is becoming an even more uphill battle.
We Marylanders of common sense have sat on the edge of our seats for far too long now witnessing this comedy develop. From day one, we have been watching as the most outspoken opponents led the O’Malley fracking commission by the nose; as O’Malley approved fracking only to be followed by an immediate moratorium; and as opponents to natural gas call the current proposals too lackadaisical and too risky when they are the most stringent regulation proposals in the nation.
The article suggests the new regulations differ significantly from earlier proposals, but what I see is little change. Mostly, the rules allow for wells to be somewhat closer to homes (but still establish ridiculous setbacks). They also require some additional casings, but for the most part, they fall inline with the committee of usual suspects.
This has been a complete circus act and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. Senator Bobby Zirkin is pledging to introduce a bill to ban fracking permanently. He says, “As far as I’m concerned, they can hold off on the regulations forever.”
Fractivists are still going to be pushing for a permanent ban. Nadine Grabania, of Citizen Shale, said the group “has no confidence in the state’s ability to regulate this hazardous activity, nor in its commitment to monitor and enforce those regulations.”
A law class I took on negotiations in college said that before starting a negotiation, you must have a BATNA, best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Not that Maryland fractivists would consider actual negotiations, but if they did, what would be their BATNA to natural gas? It would be disaster for the rest of us.
No fracking for Maryland means no in-state source of clean energy, no new economic opportunities for Western Maryland. The region will be forced to continue to depend on a declining coal industry. That’s no plan at all, which is exactly what why fractivists love it, of course. They are simply de-growthers, after all. Many are trust-funders who already have theirs, of course. They couldn’t care less about the rest of us.