Forty residents came out to Monday’s Greenbelt City Council meeting to show their support for a proposed state bill to enact a moratorium on fracking in Maryland and asked the council to send a letter in support to the legislature.
There are two fracking bills before the Maryland legislature—one to ban fracking in Maryland and another to enact a moratorium until further studies can be completed. Hearings on both bills are scheduled before the Senate Education Health And Environment Committee Tuesday at 1 p.m. and before the House Environmental Committee March 8 at 1 p.m.
Lore Rosenthal of Greenbelt said this group of citizens were asking the council to support a moratorium rather than a ban because a ban was “ a little too severe.”
“We feel (the moratorium) is a more reasonable bill and more respectful of the needs of the people of Western Maryland,” Rosenthal said.
She provided the council with a four-page letter that included some language that would help them draft a letter, but Mayor Judith Davis said city staff would write a more concise letter using the concerns outlined by the citizens group.
Davis said she was supportive of a moratorium because it would give time for studies to be completed before a decision was made.
“The western part of Maryland is hot-to-trot with fracking because to them it’s jobs,” Davis said. “It’s going to be a dogfight on the floor.”
Council Member Konrad Herling said he was opposed to fracking.
“I keep thinking of the play ‘Damn Yankees,’ where they sell their soul for a ballpark,” Herling said. “They are asking us to sell our environmental soul and it’s not worth the price.”
Greenbelt resident Misha R’Kingsley said she returned to the Poconos, where she lived in the late 1980s, this past summer after companies had started fracking in the area.
“For the first time I saw the effect of it; I would not put a toe in (the Delaware River),” she said.
She said that fracking is hurting the community there and said she saw the damage that was happening to the surrounding environment.
“I came home and told my husband Dirk that that was the last time I was going up (there) and it makes me want to cry,” R’Kingsley said. “I understand what Western Maryland is saying, but they haven’t seen the damage that I have.”
The council unanimously voted to support the moratorium bill and draft a letter as expeditiously as possible.
The council also voted to unanimously support other bills before the legislature, including a street lighting bill, a bill to require the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services to notify local police departments before a group home is established in a jurisdiction and three bills to improve public participation regarding the Public Service Commission’s oversight of electric utilities.
The council voted to oppose a bill that would limit a municipalities ability to establish different tax rates for different classes of real property.
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