Maryland’s Fracking Ban Goes Up Against Corporate Democrats

The Maryland legislature is controlled by the Democratic Party.

The Maryland Senate by 33 to 14 and the Maryland General Assembly by 91 to 50.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that corporations don’t get what they want in Maryland.

Let us take the case of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas — also known as fracking.

In 2015, a grassroots movement pushed for a statewide ban on fracking — but instead got a moratorium that expires in October 2017.

So, in January, the bill to ban fracking will be up again in the legislature.

If it doesn’t pass, then fracking comes to Maryland.

Maryland is surrounded by states that have been fracking for awhile, in particular West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

And the results are obvious for all to see.

At the top of the list — contaminated well water.

Even in Trump country, people are learning their fracking lesson.

So, for example, in conservative western Maryland, where most of the Maryland fracking would occur and where Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by three to one, recent polls show that people there support a ban on fracking by two to one. (That’s also the margin statewide.)

That means that there are a lot of Trump supporters who don’t want their communities turned into West Virginia or Pennsylvania.

There is a growing grassroots movement to ban fracking in Maryland, led by groups like Citizen Shale and Don’t Frack Maryland.

But they are up against the wall of corporate Democrats.

Take the case of Democratic State Senator Joan Carter Conway.

She’s featured in the recent documentary — Fracking Western Maryland — which focuses her role in the 2015 fight to ban fracking.

In February 2015, the Baltimore Sun reported that “most previous attempts at a ban have been blocked in the Senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committee by its chairwoman, Democratic Senator Joan Carter Conway of Baltimore.”

If a bill banning fracking ever made it onto the floor of the Maryland Senate, Senator Conway had a predication.

“It’s never going to pass,” she said. “It’s never going to pass. It’s never going to pass.”

Why is Conway, a liberal Democrat from Baltimore, so opposed to a ban on fracking?

She’s from Baltimore.

No fracking there.

But corporate lobbyists galore.

It’s clear from the documentary that Conway is fronting for the fracking industry.

She sees a ban coming down the pike and introduces a bill that would put a moratorium on it for two years and then require the Maryland Department of the Environment to draft fracking regulations to govern the industry.

Conway’s bill bumped a bill that would have put in place an eight year moratorium and require a health study.

Why did she do this?

“Why did they do that?” said Ann Bristow, a western Maryland resident who appeared in the documentary. “Because none of them wanted to know what the health research is saying. They are realizing that any place that puts health in the lead, then you end up with a ban like they did in New York.”

In the documentary, Conway says — “until we have a well in Maryland, we will never know what is going to happen.”

Same thing that’s happening in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, right?

The groundwater gets contaminated?

No, Conway says, Maryland is different.

She doesn’t explain how.

Conway says she was insulted when protesters from Don’t Frack Maryland showed up outside her office in downtown Baltimore earlier this week.

But she’s apparently not insulted by her close ties to fracking industry.

Conway is close friends with corporate lobbyists Lisa Harris Jones and Sean Malone.

Their firm — Harris Jones Malone — is the top lobbying firm for the gas industry in the state of Maryland.

Conway was the matron of honor at the 2013 Jones Malone wedding in Las Vegas.

“I’m like a godmother to them,” Conway told the Baltimore Brew. “You can’t expect people who work together to not have personal relationships or to abandon their friendships because they work together.”

Last night, a group supporting the ban on fracking in Maryland showed up in Calvert County at a League of Women Voters organized gathering to allow citizens to meet their local state legislators.

Aeryn Boyd and Kimberly Alexander were there.

They have been walking across Maryland — west to east — to draw attention to the battle ban fracking in Maryland.

Turns out that the Senate President, Mike Miller is from Calvert County and was at the meeting.

Miller has been Maryland Senate president for 30 years.

Alexander was not impressed.

“He has great influence over whether or not the Maryland Fracking ban will go through,” Alexander said. “He literally sat through an entire League of Women Voters meeting watching a basketball game. We circled around him to talk about fracking, he took his phone out and continued to watch the game while his constituents told him about their concerns, about family members getting sick from the natural gas industry.”

“‘Dude, turn that shit off, these are the people you are supposed to be representing,” Alexander whispered in his ear. “It’s okay sweetie, it’s okay” he brushed me/us off.’”

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Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

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