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Garrett Commission votes to endorse findings on shale gas drilling

OAKLAND — The Garrett County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to endorse the findings of the Garrett County Shale Gas Advisory Commission to further explore the impacts of drilling.

The commissioners also voted to forward the report to the incoming commissioners for a decision on how to best implement policies and procedures for Marcellus shale moving forward.

“There has been some selective follow-up discussion, but it is recognized that any definitive further action will logically await engagement of the new board of commissioners,” states the report.

SGAC recommends that the county further explore the fiscal impacts; public safety; public health; property owners’ safety; the county’s character and appeal to tourists as well as second home/retirement home owners; and minimization of the impact of industrialization, according to the report.

The report includes a compilation of seven smaller reports that have been delivered over the year, three of which deal with comments and input on the state’s safe shale drilling initiative studies, according to John Quilty, chairman of SGAC. The SDI studies were forwarded by the commissioners to both the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Read More Here:  http://eaglefordtexas.com/news/id/141328/garrett-commission-votes-endorse-findings-shale-gas-drilling/


BALTIMORE, MD (November 25, 2014) – Reflecting extensive consultation with scientists, public health professionals, economists, industry experts, environmental and community advocates, and the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, today the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources presented a draft Final Report on Marcellus Shale drilling. The three-year-long study recommends that Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling be permitted provided that stringent comprehensive best practices are followed.

The draft Final Report – required by Governor Martin O’Malley’s Executive Order establishing the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative – concludes that the risks of Marcellus shale development can be managed to an acceptable level, similar to other industrial activities, provided that the State rigorously inspects sites and enforces compliance with applicable regulations and stands prepared to adjust policies and regulations as needed in the future. The report recommends best management practices that, taken as a whole, are at least as stringent, if not more stringent, than those required anywhere else in the nation.

“After three years of exhaustive study, we’ve compiled what many believe to be the gold standard for best management practices in the country,” said Governor O’Malley. “We’re committed to ensuring that Marylanders have access to the economic opportunities associated with fracking while also putting the most complete practices into place to ensure the highest level of protection for Maryland residents.”

“This report strikes the right balance, ensuring that Allegany and Garrett counties realize the economic benefits of fracking without sacrificing public health, the environment or the vibrant tourist economy of Western Maryland,” said MDE Secretary Robert M. Summers.  “With these highly protective standards, and working with local governments to maximize investment opportunities and review Comprehensive Gas Development Plans, Maryland is better positioned to manage this new frontier in energy development.”


Read More Here:  http://news.maryland.gov/mde/2014/11/25/md-report-recommends-permitting-marcellus-shale-development-under-health-environmental-safety-rules/

Would drilling hurt Md. tourism? Report unclear

Associated Press Updated: August 18, 2014 at 5:31 pm •

FROSTBURG, Md. (AP) — A Towson University study of the potential economic impact of shale gas drilling in far western Maryland fails to answer what some critics said Monday is their biggest question: How would hydraulic fracturing for natural gas affect the tourism that accounts for a large share of the economy in Garrett County, where most of the drilling would occur?

Several members of the state panel that commissioned the study, including state Delegate Heather Mizeur, asked the authors to include language in their final report next month highlighting their lack of information about the tourism impact, as well their lack of cost analysis of a potential disaster such as widespread contamination of drinking water.

“Let’s just get real about what we were able to discover and, quite honestly, how much more there is that we didn’t even begin to touch on that was the whole initial charge of this commission to begin with,” Mizeur said. The Montgomery County Democrat made her opposition to hydraulic fracturing a part of her failed gubernatorial bid earlier this year.

Study author Daraius Irani of Towson’s Regional Economic Studies Institute, said his team found a dearth of usable data about the impact of hydraulic fracturing in tourist areas. The institute produced the $150,000 study for a state commission that aims to recommend regulations this fall for safe drilling in Maryland’s portion of the Marcellus shale formation.

Read more at http://gazette.com/would-drilling-hurt-md.-tourism-report-unclear/article/feed/148129#7DRrZqwT1o7rzFeJ.99

Fracking opponents want fee on land leased for drilling; bill would create $10-per-acre charge

By Associated Press, Published: March 6

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Opponents of using new hydraulic fracturing drilling techniques in western Maryland joined state officials Tuesday in asking lawmaker to support a fee to fund a study of potential environmental impacts.

Industry officials, meanwhile, turned out in Annapolis to warn members of a Senate committee not to turn away what could be an economic boon for two western counties.

The $10-an-acre fee would apply to lands leased for hydraulic fracturing, a drilling method that extracts the gas by blasting through layers of shale rock with a combination of water and chemicals. The bill would use the fee to pay for a study commissioned by Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Sen. Brian Frosh, a bill sponsor, said the governor has asked a state panel to examine the impacts “but it can’t fully do its work because it doesn’t have the money.”

More here.

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>Appropriate controls needed for gas drilling


Twice in a month, columnists from The Gazette promoted natural gas drilling in western Maryland at the expense of the facts (“Fracking gives O’Malley gas,” April 8, and “Narrow thinking limits energy options,” April 22), so here are a few.

Both authors inaccurately characterized the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Act as a ban on natural gas fracking. In fact, this innovative common-sense legislation would have done three things: committed the state to a robust two-year study on the safety of drilling in our state; secured funding for this study from the same industry that stands to profit enormously, and created a nonpartisan advisory commission composed of scientists, industry, local governments and residents to make recommendations on the scope of the study, permitting process, and regulatory changes.

State agencies, which have said they currently have neither the expertise nor the resources to move forward with permitting, would have had time to ensure they could protect homes, businesses and farms in our communities before any drilling began.

Our concern is not abstract. Recently, a company lost control of a well in Pennsylvania for days, spilling thousands of gallons of chemically treated water into a tributary of the Susquehanna River and prompting the evacuations of several families. Gas companies in our northern neighboring state average nearly three safety and environmental violations per day.

Read the full article here.

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