Pictured: Judy Carbone, EMM Board Member, Russell Bounds, CSE Board Member, Mark Stutzman, EMM President, Eric Robison, EMM Legislative Chair
Engage Mountain Maryland (EMM) recently accepted an $11,000 gift from the Center for Sustainable Education (CSE) to use for outreach efforts to educate Western Marylanders about fracking. Since 2012 CSE's mission is to provide educational resources and facilities for local businesses, educators, community members, and vacationing residents that cultivate economic, environmental, and social sustainability. CSE board members felt their mission aligned well with EMM and wanted to assist them in their educational efforts. Online information and printed literature from EMM encourages Western Marylanders to self-educate on fracking. The community organizing nonprofit, also sends out announcements for public meeting and special events to engage communities in the political process that determines their futures on this and other issues. “EMM has targeted education as a key component of our work. We want folks to draw their own conclusions about fracking,” says President, Mark Stutzman. “The more people know about fracking, the less they like it. Once well informed, citizens realize the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing and will act on that knowledge; accordingly.” EMM plans to use the newly acquired funds to step up their efforts to reach a broader audience. Discussion on specifics is still in the works, but the goal is to make concise information on fracking easily available to every household in Western Maryland. CSE Board Member, Russell Bounds is pleased to have been involved in making the generous donation. “We're honored to be able to further the cause, and support EMM in their dedication to protecting Maryland from fracking.” “This generous gift came as a surprise,” explains Eric Robison, Legislative Chair for EMM. With a fully volunteer organization and a working board, EMM has operated primarily with board member funding, private funds, and income from online merchandise sales. “This will really take some pressure off the board and allow us the freedom to do more.” With the two-year moratorium coming to a close in 2017, EMM acknowledges the fortuitous timing of this much-needed funding. Providing educational materials over the course of the next few months will prepare citizens for any decisions being made on fracking in the next General Assembly in Annapolis. Promises have been made for a fracking ban bill to be introduced in the next session. EMM sees county-wide support of such legislation with proper advanced education. “Representatives in Annapolis need to hear directly from citizens who oppose fracking,” says Dawn Beitzel, EMM Events Chair. “Many state senators think Garrett and Allegany County residents want fracking as a way to boost the economy. This simply isn’t true. The risks far outweigh the short-term financial benefits.” This sentiment indicates that education also needs to reach the General Assembly. EMM plans to provide the straight scoop to legislators, so they know how residents feel about natural gas development in the communities where the impacts will occur. Western Marylanders who want to stay abreast of the fracking issue, and the legislative process that begins in January are encouraged to become EMM members. Informative “One-Pagers” are available for free download on the EMM website’s “Quick Info” sub menu. Three-tiered membership levels allow anyone to become a member, regardless of their ability to financially contribute. You can learn more about EMM by visiting engageMMD.org or join the conversation on Facebook and follow on Twitter @engage_mtn_md.