Poster image from Tour de Frack: Freedom Ride for Awareness and Community

Tour de Frack will be biking from Butler, PA, to Washington, DC, in the two weeks leading up to the Stop the Frack Attack rally at the Capitol on July 28. Two stops in Maryland are planned along the 400-mile route. On July 19, the bikers will ride from Frostburg to Cumberland, where a local acoustic artist will perform at Canal Place.  On July 22, the bikers will be in Williamsport, where a coffee shop concert or gathering is in the works. Stay tuned as plans evolve. Check out the web site, including some video interviews with the organizers, here. Find more information about Stop the Frack Attack rally here. To carpool with CCIHC, email


Waters rise around the last house on Holland Island in the Chesapeake Bay.
The house eventually sank in October 2010, victim of rising seas and subsiding land.
//Photo from Critter Sitters Blog.

Maryland has a draft plan to reduce the state’s carbon footprint, and you can learn more about it and make comments at a public hearing tomorrow in Annapolis or June 5 in Baltimore. The plan outlines a number of strategies designed to reduce the state’s emissions 25 percent by 2020 from 2006 levels. The final plan is due in December.

The draft reviews the science behind climate change and tells why we should care, noting that Maryland’s long coastline makes it particularly vulnerable to rising seas and storms. It also explains that proceeding now is important, because waiting will make reductions more expensive. The draft plan says that Maryland “is responsible for nearly as many GHG emissions as Sweden and Norway combined.” The state’s emissions increased by about 18 percent from 1990 to 2005, which was a faster rate than the rate for the rest of the country (about 16 percent)  The report also says the greenhouse gas emissions per Maryland resident also increased at a time when per capita emissions in the United States as a whole decreased.

State officials are explaining the plan and taking questions and comments at these public hearings:

May 31, 6 – 8 p.m., Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, C1 Conference Room (info: 1-877-620-8367);  and
June 5, 6 – 8 p.m., Maryland Dept. of the Environment, 1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, First floor-Aqua & Terra Conference Rooms. (info: 410-537-3240)

Officials have said they are also willing to set up more hearings, so CCIHC is trying to set one up in Columbia.

One question might be whether this plan is ambitious enough? The plan mentions a worldwide goal of reducing GHG emissions to “stay within the 445 to 490 parts per million CO2-equivalent range.”  How comfortable will the planet at those levels?

The plan has charts indicating that methane is about 21 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2 (pgs 25 and 61).  Current emissions are mostly from CO2, but if the state allows fracking, will methane emissions pose a problem? The plan also emphasizes the importance of protecting forests as carbon sinks (pg 337) and preventing habitat loss and fragmentation. Fracking, though,would involve chopping up Garrett County into 5-acre parcels even though it contains the valuable “Targeted Ecological Areas” mentioned in the plan. Again, any moves toward fracking would seem counterproductive.

The plan underscores the importance of moving ahead with wind energy as well. Maryland is a net importer of electricity, the largest chunk of GHG emissions are from electricity ( 39%),  and most in-state electricity is from coal, according to the plan. (p 62 and 68)

This might also be a good time to emphasize that waste incineration should be removed from the list of Tier 1 renewable energy sources. The plan says that  “Waste combustion (also known as incineration) is currently the greatest contributor to these emissions and is projected to remain that way for the foreseeable future.” (p 77)

A few more facts:

Maryland’s 2006 baseline GHG emissions =  95.14 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent.

25% reduction from that level  = 23.785 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent.

So goal is is to reach 71.355 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent (95.14 minus 23.785).

If we do nothing, the state is forecast to reach  128.30 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent, which would be a 34.9% increase over the 2006.

That leaves the state with a target of cutting 56.94 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent. (That is the total with no plan, 128.30, minus where we want to be, 71.36)

So, to frack in PA, the drillers need LOTS of sand from Wisconsin. Below is an excerpt from an essay in Orion Magazine on the subject by Sandra Steingraber (the biologist who turned over most of her $100,000 Heinz foundation award to the anti-fracking movement and who was one of the speakers at the American Visionary museum conference in b’more this winter):
“Every day, at least one full train of mined sand leaves Wisconsin for gas fields in Pennsylvania or oil fields in North Dakota. The number of operating sand mines in the state has doubled over the past five months. Each one is five hundred to one thousand acres in size, which is ten to twenty times larger than the average gravel pit. “It’s huge,” says a mineral commodity specialist quoted in the Associated Press. “I’ve never seen anything like it, the growth. It makes my head spin.” …. Sand County streams are filling with silt, rural roads are filling with 24/7 truck traffic, and rural air is filling with the noise of loading rail cars and crystalline silica. …”
Photo: Frack sand pit in Wyoming. Photo by John Tittle of Midwest Energy News. 

Lore joins teens at a rally in front of the courthouse. Photo by Ruth Alice

Yesterday morning in US District Court in DC, Kids vs Global Warming asked that their case against the US government be allowed to proceed. Kids vs Global Warming says in its lawsuit that the US govt has an obligation to protect the atmosphere for current and future generations. They are asking the feds to lower emissions of CO2 by at least 6 percent a year starting in 2013.  Today, the judge heard a motion from industry groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers, to dismiss the suit. The lead plaintiff is 17-year-old Alec Loorz, who saw An Inconvenient Truth and became an activist at age 12. (The suit is Alec L. et. al vs. Lisa P. Jackson, et. al., although the defendants include the heads of Commerce, Interior, Commerce, Defense, Energy, and Agriculture departments.)

David Swanson, who spoke at the rally outside the hearing, posted this blog about the day.

The Atlantic and also had articles about Alec and his lawsuit.

“I think a lot of young people realize that this is an urgent time, and that we’re not going to solve this problem just by riding our bikes more,” Alec Loorz said in an interview in The Atlantic.