Earlier this week Maryland became the first state to pass a 'citizens ban' on natural gas fracking. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 35 - 10 through the senate and carried the support of the Republican Governor. People on both sides of the aisle saw through the spin to the truth. Granting where we were 10 years ago, the win is without a doubt, historic.
The credit for this win lies with many people and organizations, but I want to give a quick shout-out to to some hometown heros, Citizen Shale, a group of regular folks from Western Maryland who got together because of their shared concerns about the impacts that fracking would have on their community. For 6 years they worked along side of others to make this happen. For the last year I had the privilege of sitting on their board of directors. Due to personal circumstances, I was unable to offer any support outside of some cheering from the sidelines. But, what I did get was the chance to be a fly on the wall, watching a concerned citizens group organize and, eventually, win. I want to share with you some things I take away from watching them at work:
1. In the long run, good ideas win out over crappy ideas. Keeping our economy committed to fossil fuels is a crappy idea. Transitioning away from dirty energy and towards clean, sustainable sources is a good idea.
2. However, any system in its current state is controlled by individuals and organizations who have made themselves wealthy and powerful on the status quo of that system. As such, they will often do everything within their power to maintain the status quo and prevent the new good idea from happening. In the case of fracking, gas companies worked tirelessly to lobby, intimidate, undermine, miss-educate, and push the truth (and those who know it) out of the way.
3. As such, history shows us that good ideas never win out over crappy ideas automatically. It ONLY happens if average, every-day people choose to inform themselves, choose to organize, and choose to stay committed to the win. Even then, success is not always guaranteed... it takes time, courage and commitment. As they say, freedom ain't free.
One final thought. Stopping fracking is only a foothold on the bigger issue, which is kicking our addiction to fossil fuels and preventing the worst of climate change while we still can. If you take the time to research climate science, I have zero doubts that you will come to a similar conclusion that I (and 98% of scientists) have: climate change is happening; the primary driver is from human activity; and doing nothing or little about it would be a terrible idea for our economy, our society, our freedoms, our communities, future generations and the natural world. Conservatives should come to that conclusion just as much as Liberals.
If you know those things to be true, then get involved. Some way. Any way. Even if it just means cheer-leading, calling your representatives and voting for those who get it. Do it. Because if you do, the good idea will eventually win. If you don't, it wont.