Rascovar: Fracking follies at the State House

For MarylandReporter.com

Shakespeare, as usual, had it right. “Full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” That describes the squabbling in Annapolis over hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking.”

It is a phantom issue in Maryland.

Environmentalists and do-gooder legislators are panicked that fracking will mean earthquakes, tainted drinking water, dirty air, despoliation of pristine farmland and other biblical plagues. They want to bar this drilling procedure forever in Maryland.

Never mind that wide-spread fracking has been going on since 1950. In those 65 years, more than one million wells have been fracked, in which a combination of water, sand and chemicals is pumped under high pressure deep into shale formations. This fractures the rock and sends deposits of oil and/or natural gas gushing to the surface.

Low oil prices = No fracking

There’s only a tiny part of Maryland where hydraulic fracturing into the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation is viable — in far Western Maryland, i.e., portions of Garrett County and a bit of Allegany County. The number of farmers who might benefit from oil and gas royalties is very small.

Read More Here:  http://marylandreporter.com/2015/03/29/rascovar-fracking-follies-at-the-state-house/

Famous Travelers: Edison, Ford, Firestone: A Memorial Service is Held for John Burroughs at Camp Harding

By Francis Champ Zumbrun

“The woods will get you if you don’t watch out…Stay out close to nature and you won’t want to come back to the civilizing influences of trolley cars, telephones, porcelain bathtubs and nickel plumbing.” – Thomas Edison at Muddy Creek, MD July 1921

Burroughs, Edison, Ford and Firestone

The general public read with great interest the articles that appeared in newspapers across the country reporting the camping adventures of the vagabonds in western Maryland. The Maryland newspapers included photographs showing the famous men participating in various outdoor activities with President Harding, from relaxing in canvas-backed wooden folding chairs to horseback riding.

One photograph captured Edison napping comfortably on the bare ground. Soon after that photograph was taken, President Harding gently put a newspaper over Edison’s face and smiled at child looking on in the crowd and said, “we can’t let the gnats eat him up, now can we?”

After returning to the campsite from a horseback ride, the men went fishing for about 30 minutes in Licking Creek, catching nothing. Edison was overheard saying,” I don’t believe there ever were any fish in this creek.”

A local music dealer from Hagerstown made arrangements for a player piano to be at the campsite. After dinner, the camping party danced to popular music on a small wooden platform. Afterwards they sat around the campfire in a large circle listening to Thomas Edison tell tall-tales.

Read More Here:  http://dnr.maryland.gov/feature_stories/FamousTravelersPart3.asp

Will Maryland Close Its Borders to Fracking?

A bill to ban fracking for three years passes the Maryland House by a veto-proof 94-45, and now it’s up to the Senate decide.

Will Maryland soon close its borders to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking?

The state’s House of Delegates voted 94-45 Tuesday in favor of legislation that seeks a three-year ban on fracking, the controversial practice for extracting oil-and-gas reserves.

The largely Democrat-backed measure is now under review by the Senate Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs. There’s no set timeline for a vote in the Senate, where it’s unclear if there’s enough support to pass the bill.

If this bill becomes law, “we believe it will lead to Maryland not allowing fracking” permanently, following in the footsteps of New York, said Ryanne Waters, a spokeswoman for the environmental advocacy group Food and Water Watch, which has campaigned against fracking in Maryland.

In December, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned fracking after a state study determined there is insufficient data available to conclude it would be safe. Fracking currently takes place in 22 states. Waters said that the New York decision has given the anti-fracking movement nationwide “more steam” and “more credibility.”

Read More Here:  http://insideclimatenews.org/news/26032015/will-maryland-close-its-borders-fracking

Md. Dept. of Natural Resources tags black bears

SWANTON, Md. (WJLA) – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to keep tabs on the state’s black bear population.

Each spring, agents fan out to find bear cubs and their mothers to tag them for future monitoring. On Wednesday, they were out near Deep Creek Lake.

Deep in a hole in a hillside along a cold mountain stream, a black bear gave birth. State biologists have been tracking the 12-year-old bear with a radio collar for years. On Wednesday, it was time to change her collar and check her cubs. Biologists say their greatest concern is keeping the cubs warm.

It took two to pull the 230-pound adult bear from her den, before a veterinarian checked her.
Read more: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2015/03/md-dept-of-natural-resources-tags-black-bears-112622.html#ixzz3VV5P41Nt

Baby boom boosting Maryland's black bear population

GARRETT COUNTY, Md. —A baby boom is boosting the black bear population in Maryland, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

DNR officials estimate that 750 bear cubs were born in western Maryland this season.

As the ice melts on Deep Creek Lake, teams from the DNR are carrying out a rite of spring in western Maryland, tracking newborn black bears.

But before bear biologist Harry Spiker can count cubs, he has to tranquilize the mother bear. Veterinarians give the sedated mother, called a sow, a checkup.

“We look at how healthy the sow is, number of cubs, how healthy they look, and it gives them an idea of the health of the whole population here,” said Ellen Bronson, a senior veterinarian from The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

Read More Here:  http://www.wbaltv.com/news/baby-boom-boosting-marylands-black-bear-population/32030480

Maryland chambers approve separate fracking bills

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Legislation that limits when and how fracking could take place in Maryland passed Tuesday in both chambers of the state legislature.

Senators voted 29–17 for a bill that holds drilling companies strictly liable for injuries to residents or their property, and in the case of legal action companies would have to disclose what chemicals they use for drilling.

In a 93–45 House vote, delegates supported a three-year moratorium on the drilling practice and called for establishing a scientific review panel to look at impacts to public health and the environment.

“These bills are not mutually exclusive. I think there’s much more study that needs to be done on this, particularly the public health effects and environmental effects of fracking,” said Sen. Robert Zirkin, a Democrat from Baltimore County who sponsored the liability legislation. “The law we just passed from the Senate holds the correct people responsible if there is damage. Why should taxpayers be on the hook for environmental damage caused by the industry?”

Read More Here:  http://www.fredericksburg.com/news/va_md_dc/maryland-chambers-approve-separate-fracking-bills/article_52cbd7fb-3f33-588c-9054-7550344edc60.html

Tiny houses starting to make a big impact on housing market

BALTIMORE – How much space do you need to live?

If you’re a tiny house enthusiast, not a whole lot.

“It’s about smart living, not big living,” Garrett County home builder Bill Thomas said.

Thomas, the founder of Hobbitat, constructs homes between 300 and 600 square feet, though many so-called tiny homes are even smaller. Hobbitat’s smallest homes are in Deep Creek Lake’s Blue Moon Rising ecotourism resort, while the “Hobs” designed for full-time living run bigger.

They are still a far cry from the average U.S. home, which is around 2,600 square feet, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Read More Here:  http://www.abc2news.com/news/watercooler/tiny-houses-starting-to-make-a-big-impact-on-housing-market