Student organization works to ban fracking in Maryland

Anti-fracking organizations held two events this week to promote the banning of fracking in Maryland in light of National Day of Action.

The Student Sustainability Committee at the University of Maryland screened a fracking documentary titled “Triple Divide” on Tuesday. The documentary is directed by the founders of Public Herald, an investigative journalism company that focuses on the true effects of the energy industry.

“It is a cool documentary in that it tries not to be too biased but focuses on the actual experiences of people living in areas affected by hydraulic fracturing operations,” said Amelia Avis, a sophomore government and politics major and member of SSC.

“The documentary was screened on National Day of Action in hopes of raising awareness for the issue at the university and getting more people to help us in our efforts to ban fracking in Maryland,” Avis said.

Western Maryland is especially susceptible to fracking operations because it lies on the Marcellus Shale, a lucrative area for natural gas harvest. A temporary ban on fracking in Maryland was put in place in 2015, but that law expires in October 2017.

Rachel Kalusin, a junior journalism major, supports the efforts the SSC has made. “I grew up in Maryland and I would hate to see the state and the people suffer from the negative effects of fracking,” Kalusin said.

The SSC presented a resolution that allowed the Student Government Association at the university to join a coalition formed by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network to lobby for a full and permanent ban on fracking in the entire state, said Avis. The purpose of the coalition is to protect people in counties where people would be most directly affected, such as Allegany and Frederick.

“Frack Free Friday,” the other event put on this week, was held over social media Friday night. Participants took selfies with messages against fracking in Maryland and posted them on social media. They were also encouraged to tag and share the post with elected officials.

The event was held by the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, which is the nation’s largest environmental organization.

Despite all the efforts to ban it, some students are not completely against fracking because of the economic benefits.

“I really think the consequences are really bad for the environment and irreversible but if we don’t frack here then we will get the oil from somewhere else,” said Melin Sotitirou, a junior government and politics major. “Our infrastructures need to be updated to use other sources of fuel otherwise fracking is needed.”

For now, the SCC is focusing on keeping fracking out of Maryland.

“We are hoping to be able to work with other schools like Frostburg State [which lies directly in the fracking zone] to get mass student participation, and we are looking for as many students as possible to demonstrate UMD’s commitment to the issue,” Avis said.

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