United Democrats of Washington County, Md.
Letters Sent by Our Members
January 7, 2018 to the Herald Mail:
I am writing to provide your readers with information about the proposed TransCanada and Mountaineer Gas pipeline and to ask them to contact Gov. Hogan to protect our water sources and our environment.
This pipeline will be horizontally drilled under the C&O Canal and Potomac River near Hancock. This is extremely risky. It will transport fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Martinsburg, W.Va.
If the drilling and later operation of this pipeline should experience a blowout or other leaks, it will introduce public health and environmental risks. It will expose those who depend on their private wells and those who draw drinking water from the Potomac to possible pollution, endangering over 100,000 people in Washington County and Berkeley County, W.Va., in addition to those downstream from the Hancock area.
Maryland will not benefit from this but will take all the risk associated with this pipeline. This risk is not just a local or regional concern but will potentially impact everyone who depends on the Potomac River.
I do not understand why transporting natural gas across Maryland to West Virginia is necessary, since West Virginia has ample natural gas reserves and active wells. In fact, in November 2017, West Virginia has entered in to an agreement with China Energy to develop gas and chemical manufacturing projects. China will benefit. And in December 2013, Dominion Energy in West Virginia contracted to deliver natural gas to pipelines in Ohio. They are exporting their gas!
To move forward, TransCanada needs a 401 Certification required by the Clean Water Act.
Please contact Gov. Hogan (410-974-3901) and ask him to deny the 401 certification. Thank you.
December 12, 2017 to the Herald Mail:
TransCanada, a giant Canadian energy corporation with a long track record of pipeline explosions and leaks, needs Gov. Hogan’s approval for its “Eastern Panhandle Expansion.” This proposed pipeline would carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania south across the panhandle of Maryland into West Virginia, crossing under the Potomac River near Hancock, and under our C&O Canal National Historical Park.
The Herald-Mail’s excellent articles have explored many of the issues regarding TransCanada’s proposed project. A major concern is the potential for leaks and explosions that could contaminate the Potomac River, the source of Washington County’s drinking water and the drinking water for 5 million or 6 million other people downstream.
We, the residents of Washington County, may wish to consider:
• Washington County would be affected first and worst by any potential pipeline leak or explosion as our water intake location is so close to the proposed pipeline.
• Our drinking water comes from the Potomac River.
• Maryland has banned fracking and this project is transporting fracked gas.
• Maryland would not economically benefit from this pipeline.
• Due to Washington County’s sensitive Karst geology, residents with wells as well as public water consumers could be seriously impacted by leaks or explosions.
We need to ask our Washington County elected officials:
• What administrative and engineering strategies are in place to manage or mitigate fracked gas leaks or explosions?
• If our drinking water or ground water were to be harmed, what plans and procedures would help protect our public health and safety?
• What would be the economic impact of an adverse event? How would our property values be affected?
• Where would we get our drinking water during a Potomac River cleanup?
Gov. Hogan has the authority to say no to this project and its risks. He can direct the Maryland Department of the Environment to deny a special water-quality certification under the Clean Water Act.
What Washington County residents can do: contact Gov. Hogan by phone (800-811-8336 or 410-974-3901), by email (email@example.com) or mail (Gov. Hogan, 100 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401). This phone call took me less than a minute.
Shirley R. Lamdan
Oct. 17, 2017 to the Washington County Commissioners
I am a concerned constituent and live in Washington County. It has come to my attention that our water source in Washington County could be poisoned by the fracked gas that is going to be piped under the Potomac river into West Virginia. It will not serve our county in any way.
I was at your Sept. 12 meeting when Brett Walls, the River Keeper, invited you to attend a presentation at the St John's church on Potomac St. Terry Baker did attend his presentation. At that time all the technical particulars were given. We have a Karst topography in this area and when there is a leak in the pipeline it would be catastrophic. It would not only leak the poisonous chemicals into the river, it would leak into our aquifer and be there permanently.
I urge you to please contact and ask for a presentation. Once our water supply is poisoned it could cost thousands possibly millions to clean up and we would be without water until then. Fracking has been banned in Maryland by Governor Hogan, so therefore you need to urge him to ban this pipeline also.
Please do this to save our fragile water supply.
Sincerely, Tillie McCoy
Oct. 3, 2017 to the Herald-Mail
Many of your readers were perplexed by the front-page advertisement you gave to Mr. Trump in your Sunday, Oct. 1 edition. While somewhat surprised by the decision to devote this front-page space and the entire fifth page to what were essentially testimonials of Trump voters, I also see your rationale. The Herald Mail publishes in a relatively conservative area, and must contend with a section of the population that lumps the Herald Mail with the so-called “liberal media.” After all, the Herald Mail has both conservative and liberal columnists, and has provided coverage of the cascade of controversies that have swirled around Mr. Trump: the Russia investigation, the scandals with his cabinet dipping into the public purse, the dalliance with Nazis, and the race-baiting Twitter rhetoric, to name a few. Any coverage of these news events makes it seem that you are, indeed, one of the liberal media.
But while it is tempting to curry favor with the portion of the population who continue to back Mr. Trump no matter what, I would urge you not to entirely jettison journalistic objectivity. I would urge you to cease providing such free advertising to Mr. Trump. Despite what Mr. Trump says, the media is not “the enemy,” and a vibrant democracy depends on a free, independent and balanced media. And when the Herald Mail devotes valuable news pages to what is essentially an opinion piece, the newspaper’s reputation is sullied and its value as a resource for an informed and active citizenry is irredeemably degraded.
Oct. 2, 2017 to the Herald-Mail
On Sunday, October 1, there was a full front-page advertisement for Donald Trump in bold letters stating BEHIND TRUMP. For those of us citizens who do not support him and do not agree with that statement, it was an assault to our sensibilities. I wanted to call immediately and cancel my subscription, but thought to offer you an alternative. Your article stated that 64% of the members of Washington County voted for Trump. This leaves the other 36% of us unrepresented in this two-page spread. I would like to see the same treatment given to our group and send out your reporters to interview those of us who find him reprehensible and lacking any qualifications to be President. There are roughly 100,000 people in Washington County and 36% should give you around 30,000 to find 23 voters to interview for an equal opportunity to give their views. I will be waiting to see if you can accomplish this to see if I will continue my subscription.
December 30, 2017 to Governor Hogan
Dear Governor Hogan:
As a former Washington County Commissioner, I write to you to share my grave concerns about the TransCanada pipeline proposed to be placed beneath the Potomac River and the C&O Canal National Park just west of Hancock, Maryland.
The majority of the residents of Washington County receive their drinking water from the Potomac River, including the incorporated towns of Hagerstown, Funkstown, Williamsport, Smithsburg and Sharpsburg. I live in one of the many small villages in the county that is also served by the Hagerstown Water Plant. There are many other towns on the river to our east that also use the Potomac as their primary, if not sole, source of water. The drilling contaminants alone might eventually reach the Chesapeake Bay.
The risk to all of our systems from a leak, explosion or sinkhole, created by drilling in our unstable Karst geology, including wells, could produce a disaster that boggles the mind to imagine. From personal experience, I can share with you the extent of risk from a sinkhole developing. In the 1950s, Big Pool, the 2-mile-long lake that stretches from Fort Frederick State Park west to the eastern terminus of the Rail Trail in that area, disappeared. I can remember walking on the dry bottom until engineers came in and filled in the sinkhole, which allowed the lake to fill again.
Maryland is being asked to take a huge risk with no benefit. I am asking you to deny the request for a permit to cross Maryland, from TransCanada, a company with a poor record for safety and land acquisition processes. Their most recent disasters were in South Dakota and Ohio, where a farmer and his son were killed when their tractor struck a TransCanada pipeline that was supposed to be much deeper in the ground.
The fracked gas, and the inherent other associated chemicals, is really for export. Although they claim that West Virginia needs this fuel, the lines just pass through West Virginia, as well, and go on to Virginia.
Linda C. Irvin-Craig
Dec. 17, 2017 to the Herald Mail
This letter is to alert Maryland residents about the environmental jeopardy we currently face. Though Gov. Hogan has banned fracking in Maryland, we are still being pressured by a company called TransCanada to allow a pipeline carrying fracked gas from Pennsylvania under the Potomac River to West Virginia. This means that, although we get no benefit from the pipeline, we stand to absorb most of the risk should the pipeline rupture, as many others have. Imagine poisons flowing into nearby wells and water facilities or leeching through the porous Karst rock that underlays this risky area, damaging plants and wildlife. Imagine the lack of clean water for homes and businesses and the long-term degradation of our beautiful state.
We must not allow ourselves shrugs of resignation about this. Let your voices be heard at the upcoming rally and hearing at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at Hancock Middle-Senior High School. TransCanada could begin construction of the pipeline in April 2018 if it encounters little opposition at such meetings and is able to obtain a permit under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Activists have been successful in preventing similar pipelines across the United States because too many citizens have suffered the consequences of blowouts and ruptures — over 11,000 incidents over the past 20 years. There is no such thing as a safe pipeline. Just recently, the Keystone pipeline spilled 210,000 gallons of crude oil as if to prove our point!
Please take the time to speak out. If you can’t attend the meeting, write a letter or call Gov. Hogan at 1-800-811-8336. Let’s make a difference in the environmental health of our state.
Oct. 27, 2017 to the Herald Mail
I was outraged when I read in The Herald-Mail on Friday, Oct. 20, and again on Tuesday, Oct. 24, the same paragraph about the sexual harassment complaint filed by Sarah Lankford Sprecher and the Washington County Commissioners’ response. It said “County Government announced Sept. 19 in a news release that no evidence of ‘unlawful conduct’ was found against (Leroy) Myers. Since then, two county commissioners have acknowledged findings that Myers kissed Sprecher during a business trip in South Korea.”
I can’t think of a more classic form of harassment. I have obtained a copy of the Washington County Employee Handbook harassment policy. It states “The County Commissioners will provide to all employees a work environment free from harassment and will not tolerate such conduct on the part of any employee, supervisor, department head, division director, appointed/elected official or third parties.”
It also says, “A prompt investigation of any complaint of harassment will be conducted.” Ms. Sprecher filed her complaint in March, and it was six months later when the commissioners’ statement appeared in the paper. By then, she had already left her position, since, according to her attorney, workplace conditions had “become unbearable due to her complaint.”
Commissioner Myers should be subject to the county harassment policy, which states, “If an employee is guilty of harassment in any of its previously mentioned forms, it will be considered an act of gross misconduct and grounds for disciplinary action up to and including discharge.” Instead, Commissioner Terry Baker stated that an independent investigation said it was a “one-time incident.” It doesn’t matter if it was done once or more than once. What was described is a violation of policy and an act of gross misconduct subject to disciplinary action.
All of the commissioners involved in the cover-up should be voted out of office.
Linda M. Smith
Oct. 12, 2017 to the Herald-Mail
Nero played his fiddle while Rome burned. The Herald Mail chooses to spend time publishing the thoughts of Trump supporters while a bona fide threat to Washington County’s health, safety, economic wealth and overall integrity is being bullied through governments of MD and WV. If you haven’t seen the Riverkeeper presentation on the TransCanada – Mountainer Gas pipeline being proposed to run through a little over 3 miles in western MD you should try to track it down. It was shown at last night’s United Democrats of Washington County meeting and it frightened me enough to sit down and write this letter!
Preservation of our environment has become - but never should have become - a partisan issue. But thank goodness for Democrats who have stood up for clean air, clear water, and protection from some industry’s belief that public lands and waters are their dumping ground for waste. The proposed pipeline will offer absolutely no benefit to the residents of western MD but yet these residents and their lands will be atop a disaster of monumental proportions if the pipeline’s contents end up on their property, in their water supply, and in the public lands that serve as valuable recreational areas.
In short, it’s a no-win proposition for western MD and, indeed, because of subsidized payments the federal government and states (MD, WV) would have to pay to TransCanada and/or Mountaineer Gas it becomes a total “we lose” proposition. The financial, economic, environmental and medical impact – even without a break, blowout or spill, make this an imperative “Just Say No!” response.
What to do: write or call your County commissioners and/or City Council members. Despite their laissez fair attitude (as reported by some), local leaders absolutely have a voice when it comes to threats to their part of the State. Do not neglect to call or write our local MD delegates Neil Parrott and William Wivell (both R’s). They may have just received the stamp of approval by the American Conservative Union for their conservative stance on issues near and dear to the group’s philosophy but again, the health and safety of their western MD constituents should trump any conservative views on environment. Write or call Gov. Hogan. (need the phone number). Pressure had him deny frakking – he should wag his finger at TransCanada too. It wouldn’t hurt to send a note to our federal legislators. They have their plates pretty full but they have wonderful staffs who keep them apprised of their constituents’ concerns.
For additional information, check the website to read the details and join the “Hands Across The Potomac” rally this Sunday from 12 to 1:48. Meet up is the James Rumsey Bridge in Shepherdstown.
Finally, tell the Herald Mail to do more investigative, informative and important articles. I personally don’t care about the opinions of Trump voters. Not even Trump would care about their opinions. The Herald Mail should know that and quit wasting their time and ours.