Proposed Fracking Rules Draw Criticism From Both Energy Industry & Environmental Groups

A Baltimore Sun article (2016-06-22) reported that neither the energy industry or environmental groups are pleased with Governor Larry Hogan’s pending rules on allowing hydraulic fracturing for natural gas (commonly referred to as “fracking”) in Maryland. The article noted fracking has been under a moratorium in Maryland since 2011 but the State is set to start issuing permits in 2017. From the article:

In revising a plan crafted by the administration of then-Gov. Martin O’Malley, state environmental regulators on Wednesday endorsed speeding the review of natural gas wells, allowing them closer to homes and waterways and reducing the amount of environmental testing required before drilling could begin.

The state will impose guidelines by Oct. 1, one year before a temporary ban on hydraulic fracturing in Maryland is set to expire.

The proposal pleases neither environmental advocates nor the energy industry. Environmentalists say it would weaken safeguards already deemed insufficient; business leaders say Maryland’s regulations would still be the toughest in the country on natural gas extraction.

The proposed regulations were defended by Administration officials but both energy industry and environmental representatives:

“The market is going to determine whether or not there’s interest in drilling and fracking” in Maryland, said Ben Grumbles, Maryland’s secretary of the environment. “With the regulations, what we’re striving for is a balanced and workable approach that will protect the environment and public health … and the standards would be achievable.” …

Opponents of fracking said the proposal does little to ease their concerns. Nadine Grabania, a founding member of Citizen Shale, said she has not seen any proof that extra casing around well bores should calm her anxieties.

“This scheme certainly does nothing to enhance my confidence,” the Garrett County woman said. “It strips it away.”

The article also stated that a series of public meetings have been scheduled to discuss the proposal and receive additional feedback. It is very likely the Maryland General Assembly will debate whether to completely ban fracking in the state during the 2017 Session.

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