I'm writing to clarify some statements in the article "Citizen group wants to ban fracking in Frostburg"(Oct. 5 Times-News, Page 1A).
First of all, fracking in the Marcellus Shale region uses millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals to bring up natural gas (not oil).
City administrator John Kirby is correct in saying there is no contamination in the watersheds from fracking in Maryland today. That is due to the moratorium, which expires in 2017.
Our citizen group wants to ensure that the watersheds will never be contaminated. Kirby maintains that monitoring and regulations will protect our source water; this is fallacious on several counts.
First, monitoring is after the fact, not preventative.
Second, the proposed regulations only provide land use protections in the watersheds; they do NOT ban subsurface mineral extraction. Horizontal drilling can go up to 10,000 ft., extending into the watersheds.
Third, state regulations don't have the same strength as municipal law, and industry could more easily seek exemptions and modifications; similarly, local zoning codes provide a process for securing exemptions, which industry could use, so a municipal law would be stronger.
Fourth, regulations have to be enforced, and MDE's willingness and ability to enforce regulations in the current fiscal environment is questionable.
Fifth, regulations can't prevent accidents.
Kirby mischaracterizes our group as trying to use the city as a political pawn in the statewide campaign to ban fracking. While a statewide ban would provide the best protections,we are unwilling to put all our eggs in one basket.
We don't view this as a partisan issue, and residents who have signed the ban petition (almost 400) come from all over the political spectrum.
We have in common our love of Frostburg and our determination to protect it from the devastation fracking has visited on our neighbors.