Arrests during fracking protest 3-16-17

Police on Thursday, March 16, 2017, make arrests outside the Maryland State House during a fracking protest. (Photo from @CCAN)

Police have arrested about a dozen people at the Maryland State House in Annapolis during a protest of the natural gas drilling technique known as fracking, the Associated Press reports.

Officers led protesters away with their hands restrained Thursday. Police didn't return calls seeking details about the arrests.

A moratorium is in place, but it expires in October. The House of Delegates has passed a bill banning fracking. A similar bill is pending in the Senate.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has expressed support for a moratorium, according to the AP report. On Wednesday, he said: "I'm favoring that fracking doesn't take place any time in the near future."

Gov. Larry Hogan hasn't decided whether to veto a fracking ban, saying he's waiting to see what the legislature decides.

Opponents cite pollution concerns. Supporters say fracking would create jobs.

Among folks arrested were three Western Maryland residents including Carol Smith. She said via news release she was "willing to be arrested to protect" clean water, air quality, the people of Maryland, wildlife and farms "from the greed of the oil and gas industry." 

People "must protect the earth since the earth cannot protect itself," Smith said.

“Western Maryland would be targeted first by fracking, and western Marylanders overwhelmingly know that we can never allow it to take place,” Ann Bristow -- a Garrett County resident and member of Gov. O’Malley’s Marcellus shale advisory commission -- said via the news release. Bristow was also arrested during the protest.

“The more we learn about fracking, the more we know we need a ban," Bristow said. "Our water, health and climate are far more important than short-term gain for the natural gas industry. Once free of worrying about fracking in Maryland, we can all turn our attention to a renewable and sustainable future."

According to the news release, members of the environmentalist group Chesapeake Climate Action Network were also among those taken into custody. 

CUMBERLAND TIMES-NEWS, ctn@times-news.com

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