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How Un-Neighborly!

Charming neighborhood

Feb 17, 2017 Cumberland Times-News not-in-print edition.

Instead of “giving residents a say,” SB 862 is in the business of disenfranchising. It prevents concerned citizens seriously affected by our choices up here in the mountains from speaking at all.

We live in places intricately bound to other places. Our communities are connected to other communities; our habitats to other lands. The effects of fracking do not abide by jurisdictional boundaries. No regulations can stop polluted water and tainted air from traveling wherever they will.

I’ve lived in this area for more than 40 years. I understand how fiercely attached we are to keeping regulators out of our backyards. I also know how large-hearted we can be and that this is a time, perhaps unlike any other, when we need to rise above our local loyalties and consider not just ourselves but also the folks who live downstream. SB 862 won’t allow us to do that.

If that bill passes and we face a referendum, maybe we’ll decide to go ahead and approve fracking here. But if so, we need to do it with full knowledge that our decision imposes consequences on fellow Marylanders who, totally disenfranchised by this bill, will have no say about what we’re choosing to do to their water.

Imagine the roles reversed. Imagine our having no say whatsoever in decisions made downstate that end up contaminating our air and water. Wouldn’t we cry foul?

The just and fair way to support or oppose fracking is by supporting or opposing the statewide ban (SB 740) currently under consideration. Write your representatives and tell them what to do about that bill.

But about SB 862? Urge them not to vote for such an un-neighborly, divisive measure.

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