200 people are expected to attend.
Maryland's first statewide conference on fracking will take place on Saturday. "Drilling Down: A Conference on Fracking Risks and Action in Maryland" will be held at the University of Baltimore from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM.
"What we want to do is bring Marylanders together. People from Pennsylvania are going to be coming down and share their experience. And we'll have legislators from Annapolis who will be there; health officials; environmental folks. All coming together to discuss this and figure out what's the best response for Maryland," says Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, one of the sponsors of the conference. The others are Environment Maryland, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Interfaith Power and Light and the Maryland Conference of the NAACP.
Fracking is the process of drilling down into underground rock formations, and using water, chemicals and sand to extract natural gas. Tidwell says it's led to disastrous results in Pennsylvania. "Pennsylvania has had everything from contaminated drinking water to significant deforestation. Truck traffic in small towns has gone through the roof," says Tidwell.
Fracking has been done on the east coast along the Marcellus Shale, which goes through New York, Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, Virginia and parts of Ohio.
This process is not taking place in Maryland because the Governor has put a moratorium on fracking until safety studies can be completed.
Even though the Marcellus Shale is located in the far western part of Maryland, Tidwell says Frederick County could one day become a site for fracking. "But there a deeper bed of shale gas called the Utica Shale. The technology is not quite there to drill that deep down. You're talking about two miles or more deep. But it does underly Frederick County, and it's very, very likely that it will eventually be possible to drill in Frederick County in this same way," he says.
Because of the Utica Shale, Tidwell says Frederick County should take an interest in the fracking issue. "Frederick County residents have a big stake in making sure whatever the state does on the issue of fracking, whatever safety rules are developed that they're appropriate and strong enough that one day Frederick County residents don't see their tap water become flammable," he says.
Anyone who wants to attend the conference on Saturday can register by going to Google and typing in "Md Fracking" or "Drilling Down."
About 200 people from all over Maryland are expected to be there.