Annapolis Update — 3/7/13

Friend,

This week, the administration proposed a $3.1 billion transportation funding bill to address road congestion, aging infrastructure and job creation. It is no secret that our state is plagued by some of the nation’s worst traffic. Decreasing the time we spend on the road not only benefits our quality of life, but our economy as well. This plan will provide $700 million annually for road and transit projects through a phased-in 4% gas tax. This approach allows us to maintain funding for public safety, schools and other vital services, unlike Virginia’s recently passed transportation plan that instituted significant cuts. What is more, there will be no tax on hybrid or electric vehicles (another tactic utilized by Virginia). We need to incentivize consumers to seek out cleaner transportation, not discourage them. Furthermore, the majority of our roadways are aging. The longer we wait to address this unfortunate truth the more expensive and burdensome it will be.

In other news, the death penalty repeal bill has passed the Senate and will likely be on the House floor next week. I look forward to voting in favor of repeal and hope we will be sending the bill Governor O’Malley’s desk.

Lastly, my bill to ban fracking failed to make it out of committee in the Senate so I decided to withdraw the bill in the House. However, the hearing on my legislation to prevent fracking wastewater storage in Maryland will be held tomorrow. Our treatment facilities lack the capacity to handle this toxic waste. Ignoring this problem and sending wastewater there regardless is asking for trouble. What is more, spills have become increasingly common as drilling operations increase nationwide. We have a duty to protect our citizens and waterways from harmful chemicals. This bill would do exactly that.

Sincerely,
Shane

Pushing for a ban on hydraulic fracturing

Friends,

As many of you now know, I have been pushing hard for a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” in Maryland; and, to that end, will be introducing legislation that would accomplish this goal this coming session.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at an Environment Maryland event on the issue and made the following points:

  • A ban is not only the appropriate course of action for the environment, it is the solution favored by the constituents I’ve been speaking with–scientists, business owners, teachers, parents, et al.
  • I don’t want our land to be a testing ground for a flawed process: We shouldn’t be risking public and environmental health so that massive energy companies can profit financially by extracting more fossil fuels. Instead, we should be focusing on improving renewable energy sources in Maryland, such as offshore wind energy.
  • The argument that it will bring jobs to our state is a fallacy: Studies have shown an average of two jobs created per well, the majority of which go to out-of-state workers with experience in the field. Also, the extracted gas may end up being shipped overseas.

The good news is that we don’t need to frack Maryland. We can preserve our environment and protect our public health while working to become a national leader in renewable energy. At the state level, we can implement policies that prioritize renewable energy, instead of doing the bidding of the oil and gas industry by expanding fossil fuel extraction. But, to be successful, we need to come together. Please join me, along with organizations like Food and Water Watch and Environment Maryland, as we fight for a clean energy future.

If you support my efforts you can contribute financially here and sign a petition to ban fracking in Maryland here.

I look forward to hearing from you on fracking and other issues as the legislative session draws near.

Best,
Shane

USGS Report Points to Gas Reserves Across Maryland

Friend,

Fracking just became a much bigger danger to Maryland: A new United States Geological Survey Report indicates that there are gas reserves across Maryland; possibly even in Montgomery County. Not all of these reserves have been assessed by the USGS, but the reserve in southern Maryland that has been likely contains more than two-thirds the amount of gas that is located in the Marcellus region of western Maryland — a significant amount. Furthermore, gas can be extracted from these new reserves using the same hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, process that the gas industry is attempting to employ in western Maryland. What some would view as a western Maryland issue, has undeniably become a statewide issue.

As you may know, I have spent a great deal of time and energy working on the issue of whether fracking should be allowed in Maryland. My position has been clear: the burden is on the gas companies to prove it can be done safely, and since they have failed to do so it should be banned. No amount of natural gas is worth endangering the air that we breath and the water that we drink.

People have said: “Why is a Montgomery County Delegate working on this issue when the shale is in western Maryland?” My response has been that air and water quality is not just a local issue — it impacts all of Maryland. This remains the case, but the recent USGS report shows that fracking could be coming to our backyard in the near future if we don’t act. And so we must ask ourselves: Do we want to risk our children drinking contaminated water and breathing toxic air?

Please stay tuned for further developments.

Best,
Shane

By Authority: Friends of Shane Robinson; Mary Robinson, Treasurer.