Marchers Calling Attention To Climate Issues

They started their hike in Oakland, and will be in Frederick County on Friday.

Frederick, Md (KM) A number of activists are walking from western Maryland to Cove Point on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay to call attention to climate issues.

The 313-mile walk called “Water Walk Maryland,” which began in Oakland, and has stopped in Frostburg, is designed to raise awareness about hydraulic fracturing, and get citizens to pressure their legislators to ban the practice in Maryland. “We are contaminating three to seven-million gallons of drinking water per fracture,” says activist and organizer Kim Alexander.

“We simply don’t have unlimited water. There’s only .001% potable water on the planet, and we simply can’t afford to contaminate that water,” she continues.

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is the process of drilling deep underground, and using water and chemicals to extract natural gas.

When  they hear about “fracking,” most people think about the Marcellus Shale which is located in Allegheny and Garrett Counties. But organizers say in a news release that there are two shale basins under Frederick County, and this area could also be ripe for hydraulic fracturing.

After the process is allowed, many nearby residents complain about contaminated water, and blame “fracking.” Alexander says there’s  a lot of wastewater is left over after the process is completed, and there’s no place to put it. “We’re putting in injection wells which are causing earthquakes. We’re putting in pools of water that evaporate and then you get chemicals in the air and they leak sometimes. We are dumping it in the ocean. We’re watering our food with it in California. We don’t know what to do with this waste,” she says.

The natural gas industry says the contaminated water is not caused by fracking.

On her journey across western Maryland, Alexander says she and other activists have interacted  with citizens who are interested in this issue. “We’re meeting a lot of supporters who are really excited that we’re walking. And occasionally we’ll run into people who are nervous about it, but don’t know enough, and seemed to be  hyped up to research more,” she says.

And she’s also encountered those who favor “fracking” because it could bring jobs to western Maryland, which is economically depressed. She wants legislators “to put in a bill alongside the fracking ban bill to provide opportunities, alternative opportunities, for the people.”

Recently, the Maryland Department of the Environment proposed “fracking” regulations which environmental groups say do not follow science and will not mitigate the effects hydraulic fracturing in the short and long term, and the effects of the infrastructure that’s needed to support the industry, such as gathering lines, storage facilities, compressor stations and interstate pipelines. “This infrastructure build-out is already beyond Maryland’s abilities to properly control and regulate,” says Myersville resident Ted Cady, in a statement. “In order to protect our communities, Frederick County must join our neighbors from Anne Arundel County, Montgomery County, Charles and Prince George’s Counties as well as Mountain Lake Park and Friendsville, Maryland who have effectively banned fracking.”
“Water Walk in Maryland” will be in Myersville on Friday, where a lecture entitled “Nature’s Prescription: Using Biology to Address Climate Change” will be held at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 400 West Main Street, beginning at 6:00 PM. The speaker will be Dr. Gina Angiola, a retired physician and Board Member of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate.

Alexander says there will also be a “New Moon” ceremony at 4:00 PM on Sunday at Baker Park in Frederick.

By Kevin McManus