Fracking poses problems for Western Md.

How can anyone claim fracking will bring a windfall for Western Maryland?

Last week, a Garrett County resident testified in Annapolis that Maryland should proceed with fracking, the dangerous industrial practice recently banned in New York. He claimed that Western Maryland needs the jobs. I ask, what jobs?

Currently, there are two large western Maryland companies, Pillar Innovations and Beitzel Corporation (yes, there is a connection to Garrett County's Del. Wendell Beitzel) that contract with gas drillers in neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Between their websites, there are 49 job openings as of 9:30 a.m. on Monday March 2. Those openings range from sales to accounting to plumbing to electrical to project management. Those jobs have been listed on the websites for at least a week now. Those sound like pretty good jobs to me.

So, my question is: which jobs are we waiting for in Western Maryland if not these industry jobs? Are we waiting for the truck driving jobs? Those don't sound quite as good to me — contracted, long hours, no insurance and pay all your own taxes. And more gas industry deaths are attributed to traffic accidents than any other workplace hazard.

Also on the subject of financial impacts, Del. Mike McKay told a local newspaper that through fracking "Western Maryland can contribute more to the state than what it receives back from the state." Well, I hope he has plans to impose impact fees and a huge severance tax and to create a super fund, all paid for by industry. Because most people in Western Maryland can't afford to sue the industry or even their neighbors over harms from fracking. If the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources write the regulations and this state permits hydraulic fracturing, I plan to hold the state responsible for all the adverse impacts.

Natalie Atherton, Oakland

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