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Councilman Bernard Issues Statement Opposing Fracking

February 7th, 2017 by WCBC Radio

One of the most difficult aspects of being an elected official is trying to determine the long-term effects of any decision you make. Whether it be as grand as neighborhood redevelopment, or as small as a bicycle lane, every action has consequences, good or bad. Over the last several years, I have heard the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing. Recently, as fracking has become more of a reality for our region, I have focused more attention to this issue. In my opinion, hydraulic fracturing is certainly one of those issues whose consequences, unfortunately, cannot be ignored. And despite the potential benefits of fracking, the long-term effects of such a practice in our region surely outweighs them. The boom in natural gas only seeks to deepen our dependence on non-renewable energy. The jobs created from fracking would be mostly contractors from outside our community, who travel from site to site. The economic gains pale in comparison to the harm that can come to the world we are leaving for our children and grandchildren…

 

Contamination of groundwater. Methane pollution. Waste disposal. And in some cases, as we’re seeing in Oklahoma, fracking-induced earthquakes – these are just a few of the consequences we might expect to see from fracking.

 

It is true that fracking is not currently planned for the City of Cumberland; a fracking well is not looming to pop-up on the Downtown Mall. But does a homeowner, for example, not have an interest in his next door neighbor’s house – especially if that house is engulfed in flames? If fracking is allowed in Western Allegany County, does that water not flow downwards into Cumberland, in turn further polluting our front yard? We are all residents of Maryland, and as Marylanders, we here in Cumberland share the same responsibility for its well-being, just as much as residents of Oakland, Rockville, or Ocean City.

 

I have no doubt that every colleague of mine on this Council has the best interests for their community at heart, even when we disagree. This is certainly a complicated issue, and there are a lot of factors at play regarding the ramifications of any decision that is made by this body. But frankly, in the end, the only decisions that matter on fracking are the ones made by our representatives at the State Level. Far too often, I fear, some community leaders become too focused on short-term gains and special interests, as it makes for good politics. But public service and the political realm shouldn’t always be about profits, and never about personal gain. Without the health of a community, or the environment in which your community resides, profits are meaningless. The good news for some of you is this: without the approval of the M&CC, the City of Cumberland cannot sell water to fracking companies, or allow land owned by the City to be host to fracking. My personal platform on that is this: I will never cast a vote to allow such a thing to happen. I also pledge to help support this cause in any way that I can, as an individual. Ultimately, our power here is to provide you a platform where your voices can be heard, publicly. Whatever your passion or concern for our community is, this stage will continue to be yours.

 

As Holocaust survivor, and Nobel Peace Laureate, Elie Wiesel said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

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