The case for a Maryland fracking ban

Next week, on Feb. 28, the Health, Education and Environmental Affairs Committee in the Maryland Senate will take up legislation dealing with shale gas drilling (fracking). For public safety, economic and environmental reasons, we believe the technology should not be allowed in Maryland.

Nearly three out of four senators have indicated a willingness to extend the current fracking moratorium, set to expire in October. This suggests they recognize that gas drilling will not be the economic bonanza that supporters have claimed since 2011, when the mountains above Marcellus Shale deposits in Western Maryland were first targeted.

Two bills are pending. One bans fracking altogether, while the other extends the moratorium for two years — though it departs from the current moratorium by permitting fracking in counties that approve it by referendum. On the ban bill, 23 of the Senate’s 33 Democrats are co-sponsors; the moratorium bill has 24 co-sponsors, including several Republicans.

In the House of Delegates, leadership declared long ago that a frack-free Maryland was its preference. A ban bill is advancing, and there is no moratorium bill. After committee hearings, legislation may go to the floor of each chamber for further debate. If the House and Senate don’t pass the same bill, some sort of compromise is required before any legislation can be approved and sent to the governor for his consideration.

About three-fourths of Marylanders already live in a place where local elected officials have created anti-fracking laws or resolutions. But fracking is regulated by the state. So, for those who’ve worked for six legislative sessions on the issue, the “heavy lift” is in the Maryland Senate.

Unlike neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Maryland did not rush into fracking. Successive administrations studied the technology, then overhauled outdated regulations. Meanwhile, energy prices continued to fall. The industry allowed nearly all of its original sub-surface mineral leases purchased last decade to lapse.

Furthermore, Maryland lacks the large-scale deposits, pipeline and processing infrastructure, and interest from industry (in the form of leased mineral rights) needed to make large-scale fracking financially feasible today. Yet we can’t rule out a change of circumstances that drives up fossil fuel prices — setting set off a new round of leasing that leads to fracking in years ahead.

Meanwhile, mounting problems elsewhere show the technology cannot be effectively regulated. In Pennsylvania recently, investigators from Public Herald, an investigative journalism nonprofit, dug up previously undisclosed citizen complaints about water contamination from fracking. Their work took years. Far from regulators’ 280-odd citations against industry, Public Herald found some 4,100 complaint filings — all told, one official complaint for nearly every well drilled. There’s more. It appears that the vast majority were never investigated. Then unresolved original complaints were shredded. Hundreds of state law violations were documented, and Flint, Mich.-style government criminality is a possibility.

In recent weeks in Western Maryland, many residents were infuriated by the Senate president’s public remarks that “there are no jobs whatsoever” in that part of the state. In fact, the unemployment rate in Western Maryland in 2016 was almost identical to the state average, and lower than some counties. Long gone are the days that Mountain Maryland depended overly on extractive energy and assembly line work.

Tourism and vacation real estate provide about half of all jobs and two-thirds of Garrett County’s tax base. Some of the highest-value rural real estate in the eastern United States lines the shores of Deep Creek Lake — second only to Ocean City as a vacation destination for Marylanders. Generations have visited and created the magical memories that many families cherish forever.

To state the obvious, nowhere in the world do fracking and world-class tourism mix. That’s why in Florida right now, with Republicans in charge, the legislature is considering a fracking ban. Florida’s economy is Deep Creek’s, writ large.

Additionally, fracking is “anti-business”: While a few short-term jobs may be created, most Western Marylanders — like others in a state where the solar industry grew 40 percent in 2015 — prefer small-business ownership, with sustainable economic investments in tourism, agriculture and green energy.

Mountainside solar installations are burgeoning. Indeed, Western Marylanders want the same future as the rest of the state. Most polls show that a strong majority of Garrett and Allegany county residents want the fracking ban that Marylanders as a whole support.

Is this another “jobs versus environment” debate? Not at all. Nationally, less than 10 percent of jobs on a well-pad are unionized. Along with embalmers and theater projectionists, zero petroleum engineers belong to unions.

The Laborers International Union recently came out in support of fracking and staged a rally in Annapolis. In a union with a proud tradition of training workers in emerging industries, wouldn’t organizing solar-industry installers sustain and grow its membership?

Finally, there’s the matter of fracking’s effect on global climate change. Farmers statewide are already feeling the effects of erratic precipitation, unpredictable freezes and bigger storms. This year, the annual “Winterfest” festival in Oakland, Md. (the state’s “snowiest” town) was postponed due to spring-like weather.

Scientists agree that fossil fuel combustion is driving planetary warming. And new scientific analysis confirms that fracked gas is nearly as bad as coal for the atmosphere. That’s because, before it is burned at distant power plants or on your stovetop, natural gas (mostly methane) is constantly leaking from wellheads, pipelines and compressor stations. Estimates of leakage vary from about 2 percent of production to more than 10 percent. Overall, carbon dioxide is a more potent greenhouse gas, but in the short-term — measured in 20-year periods —methane is orders of magnitude more detrimental. So the life-cycle warming impact of gas rivals coal. To save our climate, we have to steadily move off of gas, not increase its use through reckless fracking.

For Maryland’s economy, health and environment, we need to ban fracking once and for all. This drilling method will never be safe. We have all of the data we need on that. Now we just need the political will of our leaders in Annapolis to finally do the right thing.

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Winter Fest- this weekend!

Due to the high temperatures we are to have the original weekend of Feb 18 – 19, Winter Fest (sculptures and vendors/crafters) have been rescheduled for February 25 & 26.

Join us in downtown Oakland for Winter Fest 2017! Master Carver Bill Sandusky will be joining us when we line the streets with over 30 ice sculptures and witness some of them LIVE! In addition, we will have a Indoor Market Place for food and craft vendors at 221 S. Third Street.  There will be a book signing with David Craig-”Greetings from Gettysburg”.  Held at Oakland B&O Museum. It is a history of the battlefield being created as a national park. Saturday from 10am-4pm.  There will be sleigh rides, great shopping and dining specials too!

UPDATE-

 

So everyone…here is the deal. Temperatures Saturday are to be in the 60’s. We are keeping everything on Saturday including the book signing, crafters, carriage rides, etc. The Deep Creek Dunk is also Saturday. 

Sunday the temperatures are to be in the mid thirties with snow! The sculptures will not go out until Sunday morning. The live carvings will also be done on Sunday. This way the carvings will last at least 24 hours and the live carvings can still be done. If we put them out on Saturday, they would only last a couple of hours and we could not do the live carvings.

This is the schedule no matter what happens weather wise! I honestly believe this is the best option in such a difficult situation. I encourage all businesses to be open on Sunday as I feel we will still get numerous visitors.

Please spread the word as much as possible. Thank you all or your patience and understanding. 

 

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Deep Creek Lake & Garrett County, Maryland Offer Military March Promotion

The Deep Creek Lake area and Garrett County, Maryland salute our nation’s heroes with a Military March promotion. The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce is offering discounts for military members on their website, www.visitdeepcreek.com. The promotion, which is sponsored by GCC Technologies, LLC,  runs from March 1 – March 31, 2017, non-holidays.

Twenty-three businesses are participating in the promotion offering military discounts on dining, shopping, lodging, groceries, design work, clothing, glassware, car purchases, oil changes, hot tubs,  lift tickets, rentals, lessons and snow tubing.

“The Military March promotion is a terrific way for military members and their families to save on a trip to the Deep Creek Lake area and Garrett County,” said Sarah Duck, Director of Tourism & Marketing for the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce. “We are proud to honor our nation’s heroes with discounts from a wide variety of our area’s businesses.”

The Military March Promotion includes offers from Bear Creek Traders, Cabin on Farm View Rental Home, CurlyRed Inc., Deep Creek Beverage, Deep Creek Shop ‘n Save Fresh Featuring Mountain Flour Bakery, Haley Farm Inn & Retreat Center, Joyce’s Deep Creek Rentals and Trips, Lake Pointe Inn, Ledo Pizza, Pasta & Pub, Long Branch Saloon & Motel, McHenry Beverage Shoppe, Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, Railey Mountain Lake Vacations, Rudy’s Clothing, Savage River Lodge, Simon Pearce Factory Outlet and Glassblowing, Suites at Silver Tree, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations, Team One Chevrolet Buick GMC, The Hot Tub Store, Uno Chicago Grill Deep Creek, Will O’the Wisp Resort and Wisp Resort.

To redeem the offers, military members simply need to show a valid military ID when purchasing. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply; please see specific details and restrictions for each offer at https://www.visitdeepcreek.com/pages/MilitaryMarch2017.

To view all of the military March offers or for more information about Garrett County, please stop by www.visitdeepcreek.com or call 888.387.5237.

 

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NEW LISTING- 2372 Mayhew Inn Road

Check out my listing on Mayhew Inn Road!

4BR/3BA lake area home on 2 wooded/private acres! Features tongue & groove ceilings, hardwood floors, exposed beams, Avonite countertops, eat-in kitchen w/ plenty of storage and cabinet space.

HUGE master suite with custom tile shower + oversized closet & washer/dryer. 2nd stackable unit upstairs! Paved driveway. Stamped patio. Heated garage with storage area + outdoor shed.

Must see!

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NEW LISTING- 1041 Rock Lodge Road

Check out my new listing on Rock Lodge Road!

4BR/3BA renovated cottage (2009) with ~1200sf addition on coveted Rock Lodge Rd. Gutted to studs & rebuilt with extra insulation. Original fireplace! Very well maintained.

Covered porch offers seasonal lake views. Rear deck backs to woods & surrounded by huge, moss covered boulders.

Low maintenance yard. 2 furnaces; energy efficient design. Vaulted ceilings. Paved driveway with plenty of parking.

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Property Owners’ Association: State Money For Garrett County

February 7, 2017

Folks,

The State (DNR) owns approximately 90,000 acres of land in Garrett County which is not subject to property taxes for the county due to state ownership.  The current means to recoup some of the lost property taxes is to provide the county with 25% of the revenue obtained from the sale of timber on this land.  For the last several years, however, very little timber has been harvested so the revenue coming to Garrett County has been very low.  This process currently exists throughout Maryland for all counties in which the state owns land that cannot be taxed.
To remedy this situation and insure a fair amount of revenue, consistent with the amount of acreage owned by the state, this bill will provide a more equitable reimbursement of funds to Garrett County for land owned by the State of Maryland. The proposed bill breaks down the acreage into “units” of 10,000 acres and would mandate $250,000 per unit income to the county annually.  SB273 will make the County’s reimbursement approximately $2 million annually. SB273 is being heard by the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee on Wednesday, February 15 at 1:00 p.m. Please send written testimony to George.edwards@senate.state.md.us by February 14, asking the Budget & Taxation Committee to give SB273 a FAVORABLE REPORT, and indicate if you plan to testify in person. Senate Bill 273 (SB 273) may be seen here. The existing system related to timber would no longer be used.
Your POA supports this bill because it is a fair way to reimburse the county for taxes that currently cannot be collected, and asks that you consider sending a written testimony  of endorsement.
Thanks very much in advance for your support on this bill which, if passed, will insure Garrett County is fairly reimbursed for uncollectable tax revenue.

  Cheers,

Bob Hoffmann

President

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NEW LISTING- 1305 Deep Creek Drive

Check out my new listing in the heart of McHenry!

WOW! Impressive lakefront chalet with western exposure and an iconic, ‘postcard’ view of Deep Creek Lake & Wisp Ski Resort. Unbelievable level, grassy, lakefront lot.

Ultra rare 3 slip private dock.

Recently established vacation rental home with annual projections nearing $100k. 5 spacious BR’s, 2 car garage, screened porch, upper and lower mud room.

Views from virtually every room in the house.

for more information, click here.
For a 3-d tour, click here.

 

 

Laura K.O. Smith ’05: Sailing to the End of the World and Back

The life of a full-time adventurer on the high seas

In high school, most people have posters of bands in their room, but Laura K.O. Smith ’05’s tastes hewed more anachronistic: “I laid out my desk like I thought a ship captain’s desk would look from the late 1700s.”

Growing up, Smith was enthralled by young-adult adventure novels, particularly The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, the story of a 19th-century teenager thrust on a harrowing sea voyage.

Continuing her lifelong romance with the ocean, Smith and her husband, Federico Guerrero, run Quixote Expeditions, a 2-year-old business that sails approximately nine hardy tourists from Chile’s Cape Horn across the perilous Drake Passage and on to the icy monoliths of Antarctica.

“A lot of people think we’re crazy,” Smith says. “It’s sort of become a new normal for us.”

The couple’s boat, the Ocean Tramp, is a double-masted rig that measures roughly 65 feet long. The pair, who met while working for an oil-services company, bought the boat after its previous owner, legendary American mountaineer Charlie Porter, died in 2014.

Ocean Tramp’s inboard engine helps to escape wayward ice, while an aluminum-fortified hull adds to its defenses. Smith and Guerrero got the idea for their business after traveling with friends to Antarctica in 2013.

As the expedition leader, Smith charts all tourist activities during the short Antarctic sailing season — December through March. Guerrero, a licensed captain, pilots the craft.

The couple made two trips last season but plan six sojourns this year. While the trips are billed as pleasure cruises, the couple give a free berth to a scientist, in most cases a biologist, whose research brings an educational component to the expedition.

Previously, passengers have helped scientists collect water samples and log bird and mammal sightings; a forthcoming trip will include a researcher who studies whether whales can smell.

Trips last 25 days, two weeks of which are spent getting to and from the Antarctic Peninsula. All hands help with the sails, chop potatoes, and wash dishes.

The continent beguiles in a number of ways, Smith says, noting in particular the region’s monochromatic splendor.

“Antarctica [has an] interesting lack of color,” she says. “You essentially have blue, white, and shades of gray — [it’s]almost completely devoid of reds and greens and yellows.

“And there’s something about the icebergs — [it’s] sort of like watching clouds,” she adds. “They’re all different shapes, and it never grows old.”

Smith’s life on the water dates to her childhood, when she took part in summer sailing camps guiding dinghies across Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake.

After majoring in geological engineering at Princeton, she worked for Schlumberger, looking for crude in the waters off nations such as India, Norway, Qatar, and Angola.

Now, Quixote Expeditions keeps her afloat for up to 140 days per year. Smith and her husband also sail tourists to the Falkland Islands and the craggy Isla de los Estados, in the Argentine portion of Tierra del Fuego.

The couple live aboard Ocean Tramp when they’re not leading tours, docking in Ushuaia, Argentina, the so-called “end of the world” on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.

“Look out one side of the boat and you see the Ushuaia city lights with the mountains behind; look the other way and it’s the Beagle Channel, with Chile behind,” she says. “It’s a pretty amazing place to call your office.”

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