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Where is the real value?

Residents of Pawnee, Oklahoma recently experienced a magnitude 5.6 earthquake that was felt in seven states. Fracking activity in the state is being blamed, forcing regulators to request the shutdown of 37 disposal wells to hopefully quell additional seismic activity. This may work short-term, but the industry produces billions of gallons of wastewater that need to be disposed of. Where will it go now? Fracking has muscled in on most of Oklahoma as well as our neighboring states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. Residents who live among drilling sites have endured the chaos of noise, truck traffic, well contamination, negative health issues, economic upheaval, and pollution. The aftermath of waste disposal should not be taken lightly. Radioactive drill cuttings and toxic wastewater are part and parcel with hydraulic fracturing. Many residents of Oklahoma live in daily fear that their homes may be damaged, or they could suffer injury from future earthquakes. Officials from the Sooner State noted a 5,000% increase in quakes (900 per year) which surpasses California in seismic activity. Earthquakes can be a deal-breaker for people choosing where they call home. The number of states without fracking is diminishing as industry aggressively lobbies for footholds on untapped shale plays. Garrett and Allegany Counties are in their sights. Maryland's next legislative session will likely be looking at a fracking ban bill. What do Maryland representatives think will welcome families and businesses to the state they represent? Shouldn't Maryland be declared an oasis free from the industrial burden that weighs on families subjected to oil and gas development? Sometimes, it’s not what you have but what you don’t have that is the greater asset. Western Maryland already offers superior environmental conditions unlike our neighboring states that act with reckless abandon. Why not leverage clean air, fresh water, and open roads that make the mountain top so beautiful and welcoming? The House Environment & Transportation Committee just heard both sides of the fracking issue in Garrett County. The conclusions they draw will determine our fate. Do they see greater value in protecting Maryland from hydraulic fracturing, or in joining the herd that makes us another industrialized rural region? The cloud of fracking is looming overhead, altering plans and causing conflict. I look forward to a resolution that embraces our peaceful, safe, and tranquil way of life without the threat of fracking destroying it all. Mark Stutzman Mountain Lake Park

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