Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Conway ‘insulted’ by rally outside her office to ban fracking in Md.

Anti-fracking coalition pickets outside of the office of Senator Joan Carter Conway on Monday. Senator Conway is the chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee in the Senate. (The Daily Record/ Maximilian Franz).

Anti-fracking coalition pickets outside of the office of Senator Joan Carter Conway on Monday. Senator Conway is the chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee in the Senate. (The Daily Record/ Maximilian Franz).

Joan Carter Conway

Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore City and chair of the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee holds up a copy of the bill folder during a 2014 hearing as she taunts Sen. Bobby Zirkin over the lack of supporters signed up to testify in favor of his bill banning fracking. (The Daily Record/Bryan P. Sears)

Environmental groups supporting a statewide ban of a controversial process for extracting natural gas took their message to the front door of a state senator who has repeated blocked previous legislation.

Members and supporters of Don’t Frack Maryland gathered at the district office of Sen. Joan Carter Conway, which was closed Monday afternoon, as part of a number of events scheduled this week to highlight support for state legislation. A moratorium passed by the legislature in 2015 is set to expire in October, and state regulators are expected to release rules governing the fracking industry.

“I’m insulted,” said Conway. “I’m insulted because they didn’t even come in to talk to me first.”

Conway said she told activists in advance of the rally Monday afternoon that gathering outside her office “won’t help your cause.”

Conway said she told activists there was nothing they could do to smooth over the situation but added she’s willing to listen to fracking ban advocates and that a meeting was scheduled for later this month.

Rianna Eckel, a state organizer for Food and Water Watch, said the rally, which attracted 22 people, was meant to demonstrate support for a ban on fracking to a key state legislator.

11-114-2016 BALTIMORE, MD- Rianna Eckel, Maryland Organizer with Food and Water Watch seen here with the anti-fracking coalition picketing outside of the office of Senator Joan Carter Conway. (The Daily Record/ Maximilian Franz).

Rianna Eckel, Maryland Organizer with Food and Water Watch seen here with the anti-fracking coalition picketing outside of the office of Senator Joan Carter Conway. (The Daily Record/ Maximilian Franz).

“We’re just trying to send a message before session starts that this is something that folks are talking about and concerned about in the district,” Eckel said.

The group also plans to flood Conway’s office with phone calls of support for a ban.

“She’s been an environmental champion in the past,” Eckel said.

Eckel called the ban a top priority for the environmental community in the coming year.

Conway said she had received “a couple of calls” and said they were all courteous and noted her support on other environmental issues.

Conway said those that gathered did so in front of a closed office. The senator said she was scheduled to be in Annapolis Monday and an aide was attending a previously scheduled meeting.

“You can proceed with your rally or whatever but no one will actually be there,” Conway said she told activists.

A number of legislators, including Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin, D-Baltimore County and chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, have already announced their intention to sponsor legislation to ban fracking.

House Environment and Transportation Committee Chairman Kumar P. Barve, D-Montgomery County, has also vowed that fracking will be banned this year.

Such legislation would have to pass through Conway’s committee. She has repeatedly expressed reservations about a ban in the state and has blocked that legislation, saying such a law would be pointless since the industry is not currently interested in fracking in Western Maryland.

“I am very concerned about the environment, and I am concerned about fracking in Maryland,” said Conway, later noting that she supported a moratorium and that the state has yet to release regulations that could govern the industry.

“But there is no fracking in this state,” Conway said. “How can we ban something that is not happening in this state?”


To purchase a reprint of this article, contact reprints@thedailyrecord.com.