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Fracking in Maryland

The far western panhandle of Maryland is beautiful country, graced by deep lakes, wild forests and of course the Upper Potomac River. Unfortunately it also contains a slice of the Marcellus Shale, the geologic basin that has been the target of the hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” industry in neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia for years. The resulting gas drilling boom in those states has taken a grim toll on the environment and local communities, in the form of air and water pollution, worker deaths, public health impacts and fractured “boom and bust” economies. Maryland hasn’t seen fracking yet – but it could happen as early as October 2017 when a 2-year legislative moratorium ends.

Status Update: To address this threat, Potomac Riverkeeper Network joined the Don't Frack Maryland Coalition, made up of over 140 organizations concerned about the risks posed by fracking, now well proven by other states’ experience and a rapidly growing body of scientific evidence confirming the likely harm to our environment and communities that could result if fracking takes off in Maryland. Potomac Riverkeeper Network supports the Coalition’s call for a statewide ban, citing the fact that no state has developed and enforced regulations protective enough of the environment and public health to warrant allowing it. In fact, Maryland’s proposed regulations are remarkably weak and would put our drinking water, air and health in danger.

fracked gas pipeline threatens potomac river

Two proposed fracked gas pipelines threaten the Potomac River and the National Park Service’s C&O Canal. A West Virginia gas company called Mountaineer Gas has proposed to the WV Public Service Commission to construct a multi-million dollar pipeline from an existing line in the Martinsburg area west to Berkeley Springs and east to Jefferson County. This pipeline is contingent on the approval and construction of a Columbia Gas pipeline from Pennsylvania. The Columbia Gas pipeline would route south from Bedford, PA to Hancock, MD, under the C&O Canal and Potomac River, finally ending in the Berkeley Springs, WV area. Columbia Gas is currently communicating with the National Park Service to be granted a right-of-way access to drill under Park property. This right-of-way access request does not go through a public process.

Status Update: We targeted the National Park Service with an action alert which was success in having the NPS commit to incorporating public participation in any considerations of the proposed pipeline. NPS has not granted the right-away request. The TransCanada (Columbia Gas) company is holding a open house on February 9th to present their plans.

north mountain shale quarry

Polluted stormwater runoff into Mill Creek a tributary of the Potomac River from the North Mountain Shale Quarry, threatens a small trout stream, residential drinking water, and water for farm use. Although this runoff is permitted we have been working to appeal this permit and negotiate stricter monitoring requirements.

Status Update: West Virginia agreed to require water sampling for rain events of 1" of more! But we still await further decisions upon our arguments.

TOM'S CREEK

A major mine for the production of roofing shingles located near Tom's Creek plans to expand. After local community groups unsuccessfully challenged the expansion, we are now conducting systematic monitoring of the mine's discharges and considering an attempt to get the stream reclassified.