Anti-Fracking Groups Spread Misinformation in Maryland
Earlier this week, a number of anti-fracking groups led by Food & Water Watch and a handful of business owners staged a protest in Annapolis, Md. to deliver signed petitions to legislators calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the state. Judging from the tweets during the event, it seems that none of the speakers have ever visited Pennsylvania, where shale development has been taking place safely for over a decade.
“Businesses won’t stay here if we allow fracking” – Tiffany Blackden #DontFrackMD pic.twitter.com/z4Rd1LehvI
— Food & Water Watch (@foodandwater) March 3, 2015
Tiffany Blackden Owner of Deep Creek Lake Bowling Ally speaks at anti-fracking rally
It appears that, unfortunately, several speakers had been misled by groups like Food & Water Watch, who travel from state to state looking to stop shale development and the vast economic benefits associated with it. To assess the validity of just one of the tweets – “Businesses won’t stay here if we allow fracking” – all we need to do is look across the border in Pennsylvania to see what’s actually going on.
A report from the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found Marcellus Shale development to be a “strong engine of economic growth.” Not only are businesses able to remain operation, but they have the ability to expand as the oil and gas industry moves into states.
Maryland High Mountain Sports business owner urges no #fracking to protect tourism and jobs. #DontFrackMD pic.twitter.com/sI2Y5H1kZq
— Frack Action (@FrackAction) March 11, 2015
Owner of Maryland, High Mountain Sports speaks at anti-fracking rally
According to a tweet from Frack Action Maryland, High Mountain Sports business owners believe shale development won’t protect Maryland’s tourism industry and jobs. One simply needs to call the Washington County Chamber of Commerce in Southwestern Pennsylvania to see how that region’s tourism and job growth are faring since shale development arrived. In their most recent report, the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development found:
“In 2012 direct visitor spending dollars in Washington County was $740.7 million, up from $669.2 million in 2011. This is a nearly 11 percent increase.”
Besides an increase in direct spending, Washington County’s tourism industry supports 5,840 jobs and generated over $194.4 million in federal and state revenues in 2013. So shale development not only protected tourism and jobs, but it helped to expand those industries.
Special Interest Groups
According to a Food & Water Watch press release:
“The advocacy groups that collected more than 20,000 petitions in support of the fracking moratorium are: Chesapeake Climate Action Network; CREDO Action; Environmental Action; Food & Water Watch; Friends of the Earth; League of Conservation Voters; Sierra Club; and Waterkeepers Chesapeake.”
Food &Water Watch is notorious for its petition deliveries as well as the dubious tactics it uses. In October of 2014, Food & Water Watch and its allies delivered “50 boxes” of anti-fracking petitions to Governor Pat McCrory’s office in North Carolina – the only problem was that 44 of them were empty.
Photo: WNCN News
A spokesperson for Governor McCrory called it “a stunt trying to deceive the media and public.” He went on to say “Unlike this extreme political group, the governor’s office cares about the environment and we will devote our time to cleaning up and recycling the mess of empty political props that were left behind.”
Upon further investigation into the Maryland petitions, it appears that they were automatically formed and can be filled out on each of these groups’ websites. For example, here is Food and Water Watches’ web page to fill out the petition. What isn’t clear is whether these signed petitions all came from Maryland residents.
After all the misinformation present at this week’s event in Annapolis, it’s no wonder that none of the speakers brought up the three year study conducted by Maryland’s Departments of the Environment and Natural Resources under Governor O’Malley’s administration, which concluded:
“It is the judgment of the Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources that provided all the recommended best practices are followed and the State is able to rigorously monitor and enforce compliance, the risks of Marcellus Shale development can be managed to an acceptable level.” (emphasis added)
States that host shale development are playing a major role in reducing air emissions, providing affordable energy to American consumers and putting people back to work. It’s unfortunate that the activists who descended upon Annapolis were uninterested in telling that story, but given their ideological opposition to job-creating shale development, it’s also not surprising.