Fracking Banned in City of Frostburg Through Existing Legislation

On Thursday, Nov. 10, the Frostburg Mayor and the City Council held a special meeting with the leaders of Frack-Free Frostburg, a local organization dedicated to the ban of hydraulic fracturing within the Frostburg area. The meeting was held to discuss the next steps in obtaining a city ordinance to ban hydraulic fracturing. A proposed ordinance prepared by Chesapeake Climate Action Network was presented before members of the city council declared that existing zoning ordinances and legislation, as well as upcoming legislation, already ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing within the city of Frostburg, Md.

The special city council meeting included the Mayor and the City Council members, as well as an equal number of Frack-Free Frostburg Members. The goals of Frack-Free Frostburg, as stated in the ordinance they drafted, are shared by the city council, according to Commissioner Cohen. Cohen did most of the talking when it came to the technicalities of the drafted ordinance and the already instilled regulations. He mentioned in the draft that, “With respective to zoning ordinance previsions, there’s no point in putting in what the code already provides.” He continued to say that there are some things that can be clarified, and we will address that,” which includes the zoning regulations. He says a separate ordinance will prohibit gas and oil extraction on land owned by the city. He continued to mention that in terms of specifically banning fracking, it is unnecessary and already covered. “It’s not allowed by the zoning code, it’s not allowed, period,” he clarified. Even more plainly he stated, “Fracking is banned in the city of Frostburg, it is not allowed.” Cohen concluded that, “at the end of the day, everything that’s proposed in your ordinance already exists right now or will exist as the result of future enactments.”

A press conference was held prior to the meeting that discussed objectives of the activists and local city leaders of Frostburg concerning fracking and the proposed ordinance. Woody Getz, Frostburg City Commissioner, began the conference by addressing Frostburg’s natural resource of abundant and high-quality water. Speaking on council involvement, he continued, “We also are very fortunate that prior Frostburg City Councils have taken significant steps amounting to millions of dollars to maintain this high quality and abundance.”

Following Getz was FSU student Michala Garrison who provided a student’s perspective. Garrison stated, “My generation looks at the big picture.” Garrison, a sophomore and an activist,  spoke at a previous City Council meeting concerning fracking. In her speech, she posited that “the small gain of money that it [fracking] has is no comparison to losing the health and beauty of our area.”

Local business owner Jes Clay commented on the emotional weight of fracking and its side effects. “It would be heartbreaking if the water was spoiled,” said Clay. “I hope that everything goes well tonight,” she added.

President of the Allegany County NAACP, Carmen Jackson, spoke at the press conference. Jackson spoke of future generations in advocating in favor of a ban. “Our children deserve to breathe fresh air, drink clean water, and enjoy the beauty of wester Maryland’s landscape without being marred by fracking wells,” commented Jackson.

Gina Angiola, M.D., a physician, has been following the city’s progression on this issue closely and spoke at the meeting. “There are really, really, serious health problems,” associated with fracking Angiola stressed. She asserted that 80% of fracking studies examining health-related issues directly display health risks and adverse effects as a result of the fracturing process. “The bottom line with all of this is that people say we can manage this with regulations. “We can’t,” said Angiola. She commented on how it is said that Maryland draft regulations are the strictest in the country, and how those regulations are irrelevant. She argues, however, that the real question is if Maryland’s draft regulations can adequately protect the environment.

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