Saturday 23 September 2017

Press Statements (57)

Today, Waterkeepers Chesapeake submitted comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) expressing strong opposition to the inclusion of the Mid- and South Atlantic planning areas in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s draft 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program.   Waterkeepers Chesapeake, a coalition of 18 independent Waterkeeper programs located in the Chesapeake Bay region, includes the Assateague Coastkeeper at Assateague Coastal Trust and the Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper. Waterkeepers Chesapeake submitted comments on behalf of all 18 programs and the residents they represent in recognition that allowing offshore drilling for oil and gas off the Atlantic coast will have vast and long-lasting impacts on this region’s environment, public health, economy and communities. The cumulative effects of offshore drilling need to be considered. The Chesapeake Bay and the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland and Virginia) coastal area are fragile, constantly changing ecosystems. Maintaining the health of these ecosystems is critical to preserving the way of life that is unique to the Bay and the shore, a way of life that is dependent upon clean water that is swimmable and fishable. For the first time in recent history the Mid-Atlantic coastline could potentially be open to offshore deepwater drilling for oil, and underwater fracking wells for natural gas. The Mid- and South-Atlantic areas should be removed from the proposed plan for the following reasons: Offshore drilling could risk millions of jobs, critical marine ecosystems, recreational opportunities, and tourism industries along the Atlantic coast and the Chesapeake Bay. Opening…
Calls Made to State Senate to Act in Defense of Public Health, Economic Viability  ANNAPOLIS— The Maryland House today passed legislation that would enact a 3-year moratorium on fracking statewide with a 93 – 45 vote in favor. The bill gained enough votes in favor to be veto-proof. The bill, the Protect Our Health and Communities Act (HB 449), was sponsored by Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo. Throughout the 2015 legislative session, a flood of support for the moratorium has come from health professionals, business owners and residents throughout the state. The bill passed with wide bipartisan support on the House floor, and delegates, advocates and concerned residents immediately turned their calls to the State Senate to act in kind. “Thank you to all of the organizations, and my Chair, Kumar Barve, that have helped move this challenging bill,” said bill sponsor Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo. “I am happy to pass it out of the House. This bill is necessary so we can comprehensively study the totality of the public health impacts in the state of Maryland. To frack before we have completed this vital step would be irresponsible." Business owners in Western Maryland have expressed growing concern that fracking will negatively affect the booming tourism industry in that part of the state, where fracking would occur in the Marcellus Shale. Over 100 Western Maryland business owners have signed a letter to the leadership of the General Assembly in support of the fracking moratorium. The Don’t Frack Maryland campaign has also sent over…
SB695/HB755 would limit fees, improve oversight and close loopholes (Annapolis, MD) - Good government organizations, newspaper editors, public health groups, environmental organizations, consumer advocates, social justice organizations and private citizens will testify today in support of legislation that would update the Maryland Public Information Act of 1970. SB695/HB755 would update the Maryland Public Information Act and remove obstacles to public access to public records by limiting and standardizing fees, improving oversight and closing exemption loopholes. The bill is sponsored by Senator Jamie Raskin (District 20) and is cross-filed in the House of Delegates by Delegate Bonnie Cullison (District 19). More than 50 nonprofit organizations have signed onto testimony supporting the bill as an important step forward for Maryland. Among the several panels of supporters testifying on the bill, Jennifer Bevan-Dangel is the executive director of Common Cause Maryland and called on Senators to shine the light of transparency and access onto state government. “All Marylanders deserve access to public information and data,” said Bevan-Dangel. “This bill represents a step forward for Maryland and a step forward for good government.” A recent poll of 500 registered Maryland voters by OpinionWorks highlighted broad support for updating public information laws. “Eighty-seven percent of Marylanders support updating the Maryland Public Information Act,” said Heather Iliff, executive director of Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations. “Here’s something bipartisan we can do that will make our government better.” Several major newspaper editorial boards across the state have endorsed the legislation, including the Baltimore Sun, the Carroll County…