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Western Md. should resist siren call of fracking

I personally overheard a federal supervisor during the construction of the United States Penitentiary, Hazelton in West Virginia laugh about "pulling the wool over the residents' eyes with the promise of jobs." Most workers were imported and residents got a few low-paying jobs. They also got a high security prison in their backyard. Hydraulic fracturing will be the same story ("Frosh wades into fracking fight," Feb. 25).

Proponents hail the natural gas industry as a major employer for residents. This lie leverages needed jobs against health risks. Gas companies will import workers who know all rules, regulations, practices and company secrets. The most lucrative jobs require seven to 10 years of experience.

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Transient workers from Texas and Oklahoma pay income taxes to Texas and Oklahoma. Paychecks will be direct deposited to banks there, too. Rental properties will be damaged because of high turnaround and low personal investment. Entertainment will be adult-oriented, not movie tickets and ski passes. Young men with high incomes and no families on site will intensify the existing drug problem.

Proponents claim property values will rise, but mortgage companies can default on loans if owners sign a gas lease. Truck traffic, noise and toxic chemicals disregard property lines. Homes people worked for all their lives will make them sick. They won't be able to sell toxic properties. Property values will decrease after an initial spike as will property taxes. People will leave and others will not replace them.

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Marcellus shale is in Garrett and Allegany counties, but supporting infrastructure will appear throughout Maryland. Other types of shale will become options for drilling. Waste, which is often mislabeled, will be transported throughout Maryland, and first responders may not even know the contents of tankers.

Many look at revenues without addressing the costs of shale drilling. Roads and bridges, law enforcement and county administration will take a big bite out of revenues. Income taxes of transient workers will go to their home states.

My generation was baffled by the way big tobacco got away with its business for so long. Big gas is the new big tobacco. The gas industry refuses to divulge the contents of its fracking fluid because they use known toxins.

Don't sell Western Maryland for a few shiny beads and trinkets only to benefit for a few short years.

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Sherry White

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