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Scientists say chemicals from fracking wastewater can taint fresh water nearby

The boom in the unconventional natural-gas drilling method known as fracking hit so fast that scientists have had to scramble to determine whether it is safe for humans and the environment. Mostly they are still trying to catch up.

But a study by the U.S. Geological Survey appears to have answered a critical question about the millions of gallons of chemical-laced water that are injected into the wells to fracture rocks and release trapped gas: Is there any cause for concern when that water is stored later, whether in treatment facilities or special underground wells?

The short answer is yes, said the study’s lead author, Denise Akob, a USGS microbiologist. “The key takeaway is really that we’re demonstrating that facilities like this can have an environmental impact.”

Ms. Akob headed a team of researchers from Duke University and the University of Missouri in studying a stream near a wastewater storage site in Lochgelly, W.Va. Upstream from the site, the waters of Wolf Creek tested normal. Downstream, there were detectable levels of chemicals that commonly lace fracking waste — barium, bromide, calcium, chloride, sodium, lithium, strontium.

More here.

Engage Mountain Maryland

An anit-fracking group, Engage Mountain Maryland, has issued a statement regarding amendments Senator George Edwards recently submitted to the Hydraulic Fracking Liability Act.  The text follows:

“Western Maryland residents responded swiftly when Senator George Edwards submitted two amendments to Senate Bill 361 Hydraulic Fracking Liability Act. This bill was recently passed out of the Judicial Proceedings Committee chaired by Senator Bobby Zirkin. Looking for protective measures on fracking, representatives from Engage Mountain Maryland, EMM, testified in support of the bill along with the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club. The bill establishes liability for hydraulic fracturing activities that cause injury, death, or loss of property. The bill also specifies that chemicals used in the drilling process be discoverable. Currently the chemicals are described as “trade secrets” and concealed from the public”.

“The amendments Senator Edwards is proposing would severely weaken the chemical disclosure language and reduce liability limits by half. This has citizens of Western Maryland who support the legislation, outraged. EMM launched an email campaign to legislators requesting they support the bill as it came out of committee and that they reject any amendments such as the two proposed by Sen. Edwards. Leading up to this onslaught of emails, EMM organized and gathered over 300 signatures from Western Maryland to show the breadth of support behind SB361. In response to the fevered objections to the amendments, a Senate vote will be held over until March 15 to allow time for the public to submit further comments. “The bill’s fate is uncertain,” says Mark Stutzman, President, and Founding Member of EMM. “It depends on how legislators view the importance of liability. If a company inflicts harm, should they, or should they not be held liable? I say yes, but some legislators feel industry should be held to a lesser standard.”

“Apparently, Sen. Edwards is one of those people. By stripping out the chemical disclosure aspect of the bill, he removes an ability to link contaminated water with fracking chemistry. If fracking chemicals cannot be identified, they cannot be linked to contaminants found in a water supply. Nondisclosure from fracking operations conveniently removes them as suspect. “If a drilling company contaminates your water,” explained Kevin Faley, EMM Founding Member, “what public good is served by a law that prevents you from finding out the nature of the contamination?”

“Reducing the liability coverage by half for fracking related injury, death, or loss of property also has many concerned. “It is clear to me. The drive to lessen the amount of insurance is to benefit the corporations, it is surely not aimed toward protecting the public,” says Elliott Perfetti, Spokesperson and EMM Founding Member. There is concern not only over claims of water contamination but events that could be considered catastrophic like the massive gas leak that is unfolding in Aliso Canyon, CA. Having liability coverage to mitigate large scale events is weighing heavily on people’s minds.”

“Although I do not wish to allow hydraulic fracturing to take place in Maryland, I realize the importance of having strong laws and regulations in place should fracking come,” Dawn Beitzel, fifth generation Garrett County resident and EMM Founding Member explains. “Everyone should get behind SB 361 to protect Maryland from becoming another Dimock, PA, or worse. Gas & Oil says that fracking is safe, so there is no reason for them to shy away from taking responsibility.” This sentiment was also shared during testimony in front of the Judicial Proceedings Committee by Senator Jamie Raskin. He described the bill as suitable for proponents of fracking as well. Since industry representatives like Drew Cobbs, President of the Maryland Petroleum Council, are confident in the process of fracking, drilling companies shouldn’t see the bill as a problem. EMM even encourages landowners who have entered a lease with fracking firms to support the bill. “Landowners don’t often realize when they enter a lease, they are signing their rights away, “ Eric Robison, EMM Founding Member, says. “They can also be considered a partner with the gas company so if anything goes wrong, they could be liable even though they are not participating in drilling activities.”

“As the bill awaits a vote just days away, it is now getting lots of attention. SB361 is “the” fracking legislation for the 2016 session while the 2 year moratorium on fracking is still in place. A similar bill was introduced last year and described as a “de facto ban” on fracking by industry representative Drew Cobbs. With a reduction in liability terms from 21 years as recommended in 2015, to 6 years in the 2016 bill, it’s no longer being viewed as that. The bill outlines a fracking company maintain liability for a 6 year term following the approved capping of a well. This is a big compromise to those who worry about the long-term failures of fracking wells. EMM members recognize the compromise but still recommend liability law on what they are certain is a hazardous and dangerous venture for Western Maryland. “Most of us in Western Maryland do not want fracking, but we have to fight for every protection we can get because our elected officials aren’t listening and don’t seem to care,” stated Judy Carbone, EMM Founding Member. “We can’t count on them to look out for the common interest.”  EMM recently conducted a survey taken at a community event related to fracking that showed 84% surveyed don’t want fracking in their community and 88% don’t feel that their elected officials speak for them on the issue. “And then Senator Edwards goes and submits this amendment to weaken this bill that protects the very people he serves,” Carbone continues.” I just don’t understand!”

– See more at: http://www.wcbcradio.com/?news=engage-mountain-maryland-targets-edwards-amendments#sthash.iTc70y9h.dpuf

Fracking Western Maryland? A documentary FRACKING WESTERN MARYLAND? is a documentary film by Mike Wicklein who has captured the contentious issues surrounding the fracking moratorium bill that was passed in the 2015 legislative session. The film features many familiar faces of Garrett County and legislators in Annapolis who advocated for and fought against the bill. You will learn how Engage Mountain Maryland rallied support to change the trajectory of this very important decision to hit the pause button on fracking Western Maryland.

Mike Wicklein will be present for this unprecedented premiere at Garrett 8 Cinemas to share his unique perspective on how the film developed from a 10 minute short to a 70 minute feature documentary.

Garrett 8 Cinemas, Saturday, March 5 at 9:30AM Admission is free to the public. Seats will be on a first come, first served basis. Join producer, director, and editor, Mike Wicklein, of FRACKING WESTERN MARYLAND? the documentary at Uno’s Restaurant and Bar.

The fundraising event will follow the premiere showing of Wicklein’s year long journey capturing the real-life drama of a small rural community that helped to pass a two and a half year moratorium on fracking in Maryland. You can discuss details of the film with the man behind the lens. Share and exchange with others who were part of the battle and who witnessed events unfold first-hand. Tickets can be ordered in advance on the Engage Mountain Maryland website www.engageMMD.org for $20 per person.


Information courtesy of:  www.deepcreektimes.com.

Board mulls gas drilling restrictions near Deep Creek Lake

OAKLAND, Md. — The Garrett County Commissioners are considering a Deep Creek Lake watershed management plan that would restrict drilling for natural gas in the resort area.

What do you think?


The plan is up for discussion at Monday’s board meeting.

What do you think?

The plan was drafted in 2014. It would prohibit wellheads on 41,000 acres around the lake.

What do you think?

Some of that acreage overlies part of the gas-rich Marcellus shale rock formation. State environmental regulators are developing rules for allowing companies to drill for gas as early as 2017 using the technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Read more at http://www.wral.com/board-mulls-gas-drilling-restrictions-near-deep-creek-lake/15212791/#gJYmF6bm8Ylh5fg4.99

Md. geologists to boost seismic monitoring ahead of 'fracking'

Given that seismic activity is rare in the ancient rock of the Appalachians — and damaging earthquakes even rarer — there is only a single apparatus measuring underground rumblings within Maryland borders. But geologists are about to put another ear to the ground.

The Maryland Geological Survey, anticipating the possibility that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for natural gas in the Marcellus shale deposits could increase seismic activity, plans to install a seismometer in Western Maryland.

Geologists want to gather more data on natural seismic activity before a state moratorium on hydraulic fracturing ends in 2017 and what are known as “induced” earthquakes might begin.

Read More Here:  http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/maryland-health/bs-hs-western-maryland-seismometer-20150818-story.html

Environment secretary pledges fracking policy transparency

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles says his agency will gather more information and listen to citizens as it develops rules for fracking in the state.

Grumbles fielded questions at a public meeting Tuesday in Garrett County in far western Maryland, where most of the state’s shale gas resources lie.

He told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he’s committed to a transparent process and to good stewardship of the Deep Creek Lake watershed.

Read More Here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/environment-secretary-pledges-fracking-policy-transparency/2015/08/11/500fbf1a-4068-11e5-b2c4-af4c6183b8b4_story.html

Garrett County takes the right approach to fracking

Unlike some other states, Maryland refused to jump willy-nilly on the hydraulic fracturing bandwagon. Instead, Maryland has proceeded slowly and deliberately, preferring, if it errs, to be on the side of caution. Considering how the story of fracking has developed in recent years, the cautious approach has proved valuable.

As we said in a past editorial on this subject, Maryland can live without fracking, which is the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks to force open fissures that then release oil and gas. However, the matter of whether the state will eventually permit this method of recovering deeply buried natural gas and oil has not yet been settled.

As things stand, no fracking permits can be issued in the state until October 2017. The time between now and then should be used wisely for continued evaluation of the pros and cons of fracking, the latter of which have been widely reported.

That’s exactly what Garrett County is doing. A federal grant announced last week will help that county evaluate the wisdom of permitting fracking there. According to The Associated Press, the federal government, via the Appalachian Regional Commission, has awarded Garrett County a $37,500 matching-funds grant to “explore potential impacts on tourism, property values and outdoor recreation if the state allows fracking in western Maryland.”

Federal grant to help Garrett County study fracking impact

WASHINGTON — The federal government is awarding funds to help a western Maryland county study the potential economic impact of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski announced the $37,500 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission on Friday. It must be matched with an equal amount of local funding

Read More Here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/federal-grant-to-help-garrett-county-study-fracking-impact/2015/07/17/13a8ca7e-2c9c-11e5-960f-22c4ba982ed4_story.html

Fracking moratorium bill becomes law without Hogan's signature

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Hydraulic natural gas drilling, also known as fracking, will be banned in Maryland for the next two years.
This past Saturday, a fracking moratorium bill became law without Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature.

Under Article II, Section 17(C) of the Maryland Constitution, if the Governor decides to neither veto nor sign a bill, then the bill will go into effective by default.

This legislation passed with overwhelming support from the House and Senator, and it prohibits the state’s Department of Environment from issuing any fracking permits until October 2017.

It will also require the Department to adopt regulations for fracking and natural gas exploration on or before Oct. 1, 2016.

If fracking begins in Maryland, it would be mostly in Allegany and Garrett counties. Compared to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Maryland would only be drilling into about two percent of the Marcellus Shale.

Oklahoma Recognizes Role of Drilling in Earthquakes

Abandoning years of official skepticism, Oklahoma’s government on Tuesday embraced a scientific consensus that earthquakes rocking the state are largely caused by the underground disposal of billions of barrels of wastewater from oil and gas wells.

The state’s energy and environment cabinet introduced a website detailing the evidence behind that conclusion Tuesday, including links to expert studies of Oklahoma’s quakes. The site includes an interactive map that plots not only earthquake locations, but also the sites of more than 3,000 active wastewater-injection wells.

The website coincided with a statement by the state-run Oklahoma Geological Survey that it “considers it very likely” that wastewater wells are causing the majority of the state’s earthquakes.

Read More Here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/22/us/oklahoma-acknowledges-wastewater-from-oil-and-gas-wells-as-major-cause-of-quakes.html?_r=3