Fracking is Back on Maryland’s Table and State Government Means Business

Claire at fracking rally

It was a relief when the fracking moratorium passed in Maryland last legislative session. It gave those of us fighting to stop fracking a chance to take a breath. Turns out it’s not much of a break. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is following state government orders to finalize regulations for fracking in Maryland by October 1, 2016. Once approved, these regulations will become law when the moratorium lifts in October 2017, and we’ve got a governor that is eager to get going on fracking. The only way to stop fracking from coming to Maryland will be to pass a new law this legislative session banning it. No easy task and one that must be accomplished.

I testified at the MDE public comment meeting last night on the proposed regulations and am posting my testimony addressed to MDE, hoping to generate interest in this profoundly serious issue. Once Maryland is opened to fracking, it will be near impossible to turn back.

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Facts. Facts are interesting, because there’s a personal filter involved in perceiving and accepting facts. People pick and choose which facts to believe are facts. Even when facts are scientifically validated, people choose whether or not to believe these facts are scientifically valid. Tonight citizens will present proven facts that support the unmistakable reality that fracking will put our citizens, our state, and our climate in serious jeopardy. Since the Maryland moratorium on fracking, more scientific studies have confirmed that fracking contaminates water and air. Which facts will our state government choose to believe and act on?

As a mother, grandmother, and environmental educator, I have spent years in Maryland presenting facts about slickwater high-volume hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. Facts validated by scientific studies. Facts born from undeniable experiences of people on the front lines of fracking. People whose water has been contaminated, who have lost the value of their homes because no one wants to buy a house that no longer has safe water; because no one wants to buy a house where it is questionable to breathe the air. Farmers whose livestock has been poisoned by fracking runoff or given birth to profound, shocking deformities. Mothers, fathers, seniors, children who have experienced rashes that cover their body, ringing in their ears, nosebleeds, debilitating headaches, loss of smell, loss of taste, gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses, neuropathy and cancer. All because they have been exposed to toxic chemicals from fracking in their water and air. Yet public officials making decisions about fracking still, despite mounting evidence, consider their stories anecdotal.

Here are more facts to choose from:

Fracking takes massive quantities of fresh water permanently out of our finite fresh water supply, contaminating it forever.

Fracking fluid contains highly toxic chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, developmental toxicants; chemicals that harm the brain and nervous system.

Approximately 30% of fracking fluid injected into wells comes back up as wastewater. Most of the wastewater is blasted back into the earth for disposal, which is causing earthquakes. The remaining wastewater rests in the shale in casings that, as stated in the gas industry’s own documents, will ultimately deteriorate, making highly likely the contamination of pristine aquifers.

The wastewater also carries with it added toxins that have been quietly resting in the shale for 370 million years. These include arsenic, lead, uranium and radium 226. We are talking about radioactive waste.

Dangerous levels of methane leak from the fracking process, from well sites, storage tanks and countless pipelines. We have just passed the hottest year on record on this planet. We know that methane is horrific in its contribution to global warming.

Opening up Maryland to fracking is opening up Pandora’s Box. All the safety regulations in the world cannot protect the water and the air that will always be in jeopardy in the production and distribution of fracked gas. It is inevitable that underground cement casings will leak. That contractors will illegally dump wastewater into streams. That blow outs will happen at well sites. That trucks carrying lethal fracking fluid and wastewater will get into accidents on roads not meant for such extreme industrial traffic. These are facts. Does it happen every time? Of course, not. Does it happen? Absolutely!

Knowing that Western Maryland will be the first place to be fracked in our state, who will our government listen to? Will they listen to concerned citizens and the tourism industry that relies on clean water and air and untouched beauty to bring people to this treasured part of our state? Or will our government choose to gamble? Because that is what it is. Gambling. Gambling with lives, finite fresh water and pristine land. Fracking is safe until it isn’t. And once water is contaminated, there is little anyone can do.

Don’t gamble. With all due respect I have to say you will live to regret it. You will come to a place in your heart where you will realize you chose the wrong facts to back your decisions. The facts are already out there that fracking cannot be done safely. Please take the road that honors our children and future generations. Support green ways to fuel our state and boost our economy. It is the only road to take into the future. It is the only road that gives us a chance to have a future. Please ban fracking in Maryland.

Thomas Berry on the Natural World as Our Sacred Community

IMG_7786“The natural world is the larger sacred community to which we belong. To be alienated from this community is to become destitute in all that makes us human. To damage this community is to diminish our own existence.”

~ Thomas Berry

I Walk in Beauty: Morning Time with the Living Earth

IMG_7703I kept my promise to myself and spent the start of my morning visiting the wetland near Claire’s camp. Font Hill Wetland in Columbia, Maryland. I am reminded that in returninng to the same place again and again, a palpable sacred relationship comes into play and divine expression is more easily revealed.

Beauty was all around me.

Bright raspberries against a background of green leaves,

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mushrooms growing vertically from a moss-covered fallen tree,

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the sky and tree tops captured in a puddle at my feet.

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And from these holy glimpses I recalled the Navajo prayer that Thomas Berry—my mentor/teacher/beloved friend—sent me in a letter long ago.

In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
Beautifully will I possess again.
Beautifully birds . . .
Beautifully joyful birds
. . .
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.

I am thirsty for beauty right now, not only for inspiration, but to heal the deep sorrow I feel as a witness to the destruction of the living Earth; as a witness to the overwhelming destruction inherent in a culture focused on consumption without conscience. This destruction extends all the way to the very survival of the human species. We won’t survive unless we find a new orientation, one that brings the living Earth into our community as a beloved member of our family—a  mother that sustains us unselfishly and deserves our respect, our reverence, and our full attention.

“Our fulfillment is not in our isolated human grandeur, but in our intimacy with the larger earth community, for this is also the larger dimension of our being. Our human destiny is integral with the destiny of the earth,” wrote Thomas.

I am walking in beauty for myself for now, trusting that in these small, intimate moments of being present to the living Earth I will find the strength to come back into the world anew, less overwhelmed and better able to contribute to the critical shift we are being called to make, a shift to a world that lives first and foremost in harmony with this amazing, living Earth.

Don’t you just love the color of moss?

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Seeing the Living Earth Anew

IMG_7883I have come to the realization that we need to fall back in love with the Earth. Only when we fall in love with this extraordinary living planet we call home will we be willing and able to make the necessary changes in our lives that will halt the destruction inherent in our consumer-driven society.

My courtship with the living Earth has begun anew, and I am making an effort to spend quiet time in her presence. Thankfully, my daughter’s camp is near a small wetland, and I have vowed to start my morning there for the next two weeks—taking in the call of the red-winged blackbirds and the brilliant markings on their wings, drinking in the way morning light plays on green leaves and small streams, watching the whimsical flight of the butterfly, dragonfly and damselfly, listening to the chorus of the cicadas, enjoying the croak of a frog that takes me by surprise.

Then there are the cattails, which I have always loved,

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and flowers I do not know that meet my eye and pull me to them.

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Wetlands are a treasure trove of Earth’s creativity and expression.

I have come to the realization that sitting in front of my computer writing about the living Earth without spending time in her presence doesn’t make sense. I am grateful for the wake up call. And the gift of delight on this Monday morning.

How to Take Long Showers and Still Save the World From Drought

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.37.26 PMNASA research says California only has a one year supply left of water in its reservoirs. With mega droughts looming as climate change intensifies, this requires all of us to tune in and be part of the solution. This is an excellent article by Adam J. Rose with spot-on suggestions on how we can help save water for California and us all. Best to kiss those burgers goodbye…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-j-rose/how-to-take-long-showers_b_6875644.html

A Voice for Children: Join Me at the Mama Summit in Annapolis, Maryland on March 19, 2015!

Claire lying in snow

I’ve got a daughter who loves the snow with all her heart. When we get a good snowfall, she runs outside and literally immerses herself in the snow, asks to be buried in it the way one gets buried in the sand on the beach. She puts her face directly in the snow, happy as a puppy, and eats it fresh from the sky. When the snow first falls I let her partake of it, though quietly I worry about what is in the snow. I know it’s far from pure because, lovely as it is to watch fall, it carries with it what is in the air.

It turns out Maryland has some of the worst air on the east coast and Baltimore more so. Continue reading

Dominion’s Cove Point: Maryland Walks the Fracking Plank

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Excellent article below by my friend and colleague Laurel Peltier that presents a brief and accurate summation of why a liquid natural gas export facility in southern Maryland is bad news for all of Maryland.  And beyond.

http://www.baltimorefishbowl.com/stories/fracking-in-maryland/

 

Sheer Madness: FERC Approves Dominion Cove Point LNG Export Facility

No Cove Point

Right before bed last night, I got word that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the construction of the proposed Dominion Cove Point liquid natural gas export facility in southern Maryland. For those of us who have been fighting for a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be conducted before any approval is given, we knew we would likely see the authorization of the export facility without an EIS.  We don’t call FERC the Federal Energy Rubber-stamp Commission for nothing.  Still, the news is like a knife to the heart.

I woke up sad and furious, my head screaming at Governor O’Malley for starters. How can he stay silent on Dominion Cove Point when the health and safety of citizens from Lusby to Myersville to western Maryland are at serious risk? When the health of the Chesapeake Bay and the economy that depends on it are at serious risk?  What about all the pipeline and LNG facility explosions that have occurred in the past year?  How can they be overlooked?  It’s mind boggling. Continue reading

Josh Fox on Terry Greenwood

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Terry Greenwood is a humble hero.  Josh Fox, the director of the oscar-nominated documentary Gasland, knew Terry well.  Terry died a couple of weeks ago of brain cancer.  He knew that fracking poisoned and killed his cows, yet elected officials, the PA Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA wouldn’t listen to him.

Josh’s words and video honoring Terry Greenwood capture him so eloquently, I wanted to pass them along.  I hope you can find time to read the post and watch the video – a few poignant outtakes from Gasland.  Terry was an example of wisdom, light and integrity in the face of greed, lies and profound adversity.

Thank you, Terry.  RIP.

Here’s Josh’s post:

Continue reading

Horton Hears the Whos of Calvert County and Dominion’s LNG Lies

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Most of us know the story of Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Suess. The beloved elephant Horton, with his great big ears, hears the cries for help from the Whos on Who-ville, a planet the size of a dust speck that rests precariously on a clover. Horton, with his big heart, commits to saving them because “a person’s a person no matter how small.” Yet, sadly, he can’t get others to hear their cries and acknowledge their lives.

And so it is with the citizens of Lusby, Maryland who live precariously close to a dormant liquid natural gas (LNG) import facility that Dominion Resources of Virginia is planning to turn into an LNG export facility as soon as they can get away with it. Continue reading