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Full economic study of Md. gas drilling due

TOWSON, Md. (AP) – Towson University researchers are preparing to release their full study of the prospective economic impact of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in western Maryland.

The scheduled release on Tuesday follows a presentation earlier this month by the school’s Regional Economic Studies Institute to a state commission charged with making recommendations for safe use of the drilling technique.

The presentation to the panel said gas drilling could create as many as 3,600 jobs in Allegany and Garrett counties in the next decade.

But researchers said the boom would likely end in the late 2020s, and could leave the area less appealing to tourists and vacation-home buyers, especially near Deep Creek Lake.
Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/27/full-economic-study-of-md-gas-drilling-due/#ixzz33hCemqsj
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Two scenarios released for Marcellus drilling

Both developments would account for less than 100 percent of gas available

Matthew BieniekCumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — The latest sketch of two possible Marcellus shale gas developments in Maryland offers two scenarios for drilling in Allegany and Garrett counties. Neither scenario issued by a governor’s commission would develop anywhere close to 100 percent of the shale gas believed to be available in the state.

Both scenarios are a far cry from the idea of 1,000 plus wells that at least one industry representative outlined early on in the discussion of shale gas drilling in Western Maryland.

At the time an executive order by Gov. Martin O’Malley was issued in 2011, “an industry representative has estimated that as many as 1,600 wells could be drilled in 128,000 acres in Garrett County and another 637 wells in 51,000 drillable acres in Allegany County,” according to the state’s Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Advisory Commission website.

That industry estimate was described by one member of the commission as a “guesstimate” drawn up “on the back of an envelope.” That initial estimate had serious shortcomings at the very least, Brigid E. Kenney, a senior policy adviser to the commission, has said.

Now, the number of wells is more likely going to top out at between 150 and 450, according to the scenarios issued last week.

Of the two scenarios recently released, one accounts for development of 25 percent of the gas available, the other contemplates drilling for 75 percent of the gas believed to be available. A third scenario contemplates no drilling.

Maryland has less than two percent of the available reserves of natural gas in Marcellus shale throughout the nation. One commissioner suggested at the Sept. 25 meeting that a 100 percent drilling scenario also be offered. The scenarios issued are not state policy.

Drilling would begin in 2017 in both scenarios, with eight wells being drilled under the 25 percent scenario and 36 wells drilled under the 75 percent scenario, officials said. The number of wells would grow incrementally each year, with the maximum number of wells drilled in the years 2019-21. Of course, both scenarios assume the state will allow drilling to occur, which is by no means certain, since permanent drilling moratorium bills were introduced in the 2013 General Assembly session. While the bills did not pass, both received significant support within the legislature.

By 2026, the total number of wells would reach a maximum of 450 if 75 percent of shale gas resources were developed, according to the scenarios.

The scenarios were released last week by the commission. The commission is expected to complete its work on the study of potential gas drilling benefits, risks and best practices in late summer of 2014. No drilling permits are currently being issued in Maryland, and a few that were issued were eventually withdrawn.

For more information, visit:http://www.mde.state.md.us/programs/Land/mining/marcellus/Pages/index.aspx.

Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at mbieniek@times-news.com.

More here.

Garrett County Marcellus shale advisory committee reinstated

Elaine Blaisdell

Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — A majority of the members who were on Garrett County’s Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Advisory Committee were reappointed to the committee during a county commissioners meeting Tuesday.

In February, the commission decided to discontinue meetings of the committee until the state completed the best practices management report. The intention of bringing the committee back together was to make it more citizen-based, according to Jim Raley, commissioner.

“We thought it was best to start the committee and use the same approach that we used with the Watershed Steering Committee trying to get the citizens involved,” said commission chairman Robert Gatto.

There were 21 applicants for the committee and the commission narrowed it down to 11. John Quilty was named chairman. Additional members include Marshall Stacy,  James “Smokey” Stanton, Nicole Christian, Shawn Bender, Dawn Beitzel, Paul Shogren, Kevin Dodge, Joyce Bishoff, Eric Robison and Nadine Grabania.

“It shows that it is a very important issue here in Garrett County when 21 people express an interest in participating,” said Raley.

Members will meet Nov. 5 to discuss the charges of the committee and how often meetings will occur.

Raley, who serves on the state Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, noted that he wants the citizens on the local committee to voice their opinions on how they feel about shale gas. He said that it was impossible to pick someone who has a neutral position on Marcellus shale drilling.

“We pretty much know that we all want it done right, that we all want it done safely and some of us don’t want it done at all,” said Raley. “The citizen-based committee has some real merit because what it does is it gives a broad range of citizens with varying viewpoints from various sectors of the county the ability to chime in and at least look at the research that is out there now.”

Commissioner Gregan Crawford said that the committee has a big task ahead of it.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the commission appointed six members to the Airport Advisory Commission. Everyone who applied has some background in aviation and all who applied were selected, according to Gatto. The members include Robert Browning, Jason Snyder, Andrew Kalnoske, DeCorsey Bolden, John Hermann, Cynthia Sharon, department of economic development staff and Gatto.

“It’s a good committee; it’s going to be under the direction of Ed Kelley, our Garrett County Airport manager,” said Gatto. “It’s going to look at the purpose of the airport and the master plan moving forward.”

Four people submitted their names to serve the remaining term of Donald Forrester, who retired from the board of education effective Sept. 30: Sadie Liller, Matthew Paugh, Charles Wilt and Joseph DeMucci.

The commissioners will conduct interviews Oct. 21 and the appointment will be announced during the Nov. 5 commission meeting so that the appointee can attend the Nov. 12 board meeting. Gatto stressed the importance of attending the board meeting because of the facilities study and funding issues that the board is facing.

Also during the meeting, Ernie Gregg received the 2013 Tri-County Council Chairman’s Award. Gregg was both a county commissioner and served on the board of directors for the TCC for 24 years. He also served on the TCC Revolving Loan Fund Committee for 17 years.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

More here.

Meeting on fracking report important to the citizens

To the Editor: Cumberland Times-News

The Maryland Department of Energy and Department Natural Resources recently released their hydraulic fracturing draft Best Management Practices Report.

So far they have held two public informational meetings to present the report and allow the public to comment and ask questions.

They’ve announced that there will be a third meeting held on Aug. 7 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Allegany College in the Continuing Education Building, Rooms C-12 through C-14.

It is important that concerned citizens attend this meeting to learn about the report, as well as ask questions and express concerns.

In addition to attending the meeting, it is important that the public submit comments on the report to marcellus.advisory@maryland.gov by Sept. 10, a deadline recently extended from the original date of Aug. 9.

Of particular concern is the proposed 1,000- and 2,000-foot setbacks for wells and municipal water supplies, respectively. Local organization Citizen Shale proposes a standard setback limit of 3,300 feet(1 kilometer), based on new evidence released in a recent Duke study.

As citizens we must take advantage of the opportunities we’ve been granted to be a part of this process and the future of our western Maryland environment.

The report can be found at the MDE’s website, www.mde.state.md.us, under the “Land” section.

Desiree Bullard


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Recommended Practices For Marcellus Shale Drilling Released For Comment

Jun. 27, 2013

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released on Tuesday a draft report describing best practices for drilling and production that should be required if horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is permitted in the Marcellus shale in Maryland. The draft report, which was prepared in consultation with an advisory commission, includes recommendations to protect public health and safety, natural resources, and the environment.


The draft report has been posted on MDE’s web site. The departments will present an overview of the draft report at a public informational meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9, in the auditorium of Garrett College. A copy of the draft report will also be sent to the Ruth Enlow Library in Oakland and the Allegany County Library in Frostburg.

Comments on the draft report can be submitted by e-mail to Marcellus.Advisory@maryland.gov or by regular mail to: Brigid E. Kenney, Senior Policy Advisor, Maryland Department of the Environment, 1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21230.

Comments must be submitted by August 9, 2013. A final report will be released after all the comments have been considered. According to department spokespersons, when the report is final, the best practices will be incorporated into new, stringent regulations to apply to shale gas development if it is permitted in Maryland.

The report was required under Governor Martin O’Malley’s June 2011 executive order, which established the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative to examine the facts and science to determine whether and how hydraulic fracturing can be done safely in Maryland. No decision has been made on whether such drilling will be permitted. The third and final report under the Initiative is due in August 2014.

The Marcellus shale is a black shale, or rock, formation that underlies New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and western Maryland. In Maryland, the only anticipated areas of potential gas production in the Marcellus are in Garrett and western Allegany counties.

Largely forested and rural, the area offers scenic byways, premier trout streams, whitewater paddling, Deep Creek Lake, hunting, skiing, hiking, and camping. It includes unique ecological communities and natural areas that protect watersheds and water quality, provide homes to threatened and endangered species, and offer a near-wilderness experience.

“These areas are irreplaceable,” said DNR Secretary Joseph Gill. “We must do all that we can to protect them or we will lose them forever.”

To protect these areas and the rural character of the community, the departments propose, among other recommendations, to require comprehensive planning for shale gas development before any drilling permits are issued.

“Maryland would be the first state to require this type of planning,” advisory commission member Harry Weiss said. “If adopted, it could further protect communities and the environment from the landscape-level effects of shale gas development.”

MDE Secretary Robert M. Summers cautioned: “In this report, the departments propose stringent standards for all aspects of drilling and production, but there is more work to be done before a decision can be made about whether hydraulic fracturing should be allowed in Maryland.”

More here.

New Fracking Rules Proposed for U.S. Land

Published: May 16, 2013

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Thursday issued a new set of proposed rules governing hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on public lands, moving further to address industry concerns about the costs and reporting burdens of federal regulation.

The new Interior Department proposal, which is subject to 30 days of public comment and further revision, disappointed environmental advocates, who had pushed for full disclosure of the chemicals used in the drilling process and tougher standards for groundwater protection and well integrity.

The new rule allows oil companies to keep some components of their drilling fluids secret and will allow them to run well integrity tests on one representative well rather than all wells in a field where the geology and well construction techniques are similar.

The proposed regulation, which revises one proposed a year ago, also allows drillers to comply with state regulations in places where federal officials deem them as tough or tougher than the applicable federal rules.

More here.

Garrett dissolves fracking advisory group

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — Garrett County commissioners have decided to discontinue meetings of the Garrett County Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Advisory Committee until the state completes its work.

The advisory committee will meet on an as-needed basis, which will be determined by Bob Gatto, county commission chairman, the commissioners announced during Tuesday’s public meeting.

Commissioner Jim Raley, who serves as an ex-officio, or nonvoting, member on the advisory committee and is on Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, indicated that the committee should continue to meet to discuss the issues surrounding shale drilling. The best practices management report from the state will be out soon, according to Raley.

“I would love for the local committee to make sure they look at it (the report) and see if they view anything that has been missed,” said Raley. “There are things I think the committee can do. I don’t believe in meeting just to meet. The jury is still out on whether (shale drilling) is an economic boom or economic bust.”

A survey that was sent to the 22 advisory committee members indicated that 62 percent wished to discontinue the meetings while the state and others try to develop best practices and 38 percent wanted to continue as is, according to Gatto.

No one favored the option of disbanding the advisory committee.

Raley stressed that there shouldn’t be gaps in the regulation of Marcellus shale.

“In the wind industr,y there are gaps and we are facing the consequences of those gaps because the state put nothing regulatory in place. Now we are backpeddling, trying to fill that gap,” said Raley. “I don’t want to see that happen with shale gas development.”

Rodney Glotfelty, advisory committee chairman, asked that the commissioners communicate the mission of the advisory committee again.

“The majority of the public comments (during the meetings) have been very useful, making sound recommendations,” said Glotfelty. “I think there is an expectation on some of the public’s part that the committee should recommend to you to ban hydrofracking in Garrett County. That is really not our purpose. The committee was established to look at the process of permitting hydrofracking in Maryland and in Garrett County specifically.”

If fracking were to come to the county, the committee would look at what could be done locally to mitigate any environmental impacts and what could be done to maximize the economic benefits.

“As long as that is the mission of the committee, I think we won’t get bogged down in some of these inflammatory arguments that go on,” said Glotfelty.

Raley agreed with Glotfelty and said the commissioners would give the advisory committee direction at times.

“Obviously, it’s a sensitive issue. When you try and put the committee together it’s virtually impossible to find someone who is totally neutral,” said Raley. “The public has not been as kind and considerate some nights.”

Raley stressed that he hopes information would continue to be provided via the advisory commission website.

Eric Robison, president of the nonprofit group CitizenShale, said the advisory committee should be looking at local issues such as emergency management, road bonding, gas pipelines and tourism.

“With us not having the ability with comprehensive zoning, we have got to be looking at how permitting is going to be able to address those types of things,” said Robison.

The committee has made recommendations to commissioners on emergency management and pipelines, according to Glotfelty.

Robison suggested setting standards or guidelines that are specific to the gas industry.

“This is the industry that may impact us more prominently than the wind turbines,” said Robison. “I am really bothered that we are going to shelve this temporarily until we find items that need to be addressed. There are items that need to be addressed right now.”

The committee has been meeting for more than two years and was formed around the same time the governor’s commission was formed, according to Gatto.

“I’m very proud of the work the committee has done in the last two years,” said Glotfelty.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

More here.

Governor O’Malley’s Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative Meets For The Tenth Time

Written by Jeff Davis
Tuesday, 21 August 2012 22:48

Governor O’Malley’s Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative Meets For The Tenth Time

Last night at Garrett Community College, about 300 Maryland citizens attended a public meeting of the Commission that was formed under the auspices of Governor O’Malley and whose purpose is “to assist State policymakers and regulators in determining whether and how gas production from the Marcellus shale in Maryland can be accomplished without unacceptable risks of adverse impacts to public health, safety, the environment, and natural resources.”

This was the tenth time for the Commission to meet, but the first time that a meeting was held in the evening in Garrett County, thus accounting for the large turnout. (For complete information on all of the activities of the Commission, you can go to www.mde.state.md.us.)

After the members of the Commission introduced themselves, an overview was presented which discussed the geology of the Marcellus shale and the process that goes into drilling the shale. An explanation was presented to the audience on the technology of the actual drilling, with slides providing a primer on vertical and horizontal drilling, as well as installment of casing for the vertical portion of the pipes, and the fracturing process in the horizontal pipes. For more detail of this, please refer to a recent appindie article entitled, “Friends of Deep Creek Lake are no Friends of Fracking.”

More here.

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

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Chamber Leadership Won't Reveal Source Of "White Paper" Figures

Jul. 19, 2012

by Paul Roberts and Mike Herdering

Garrett County Chamber of Commerce directors refuse to disclose their sources for claims that shale gas revenue in western Maryland could amount to $47 billion, and, despite the chamber’s large county subsidy, the presiding county commissioners apparently see no problem with the chamber making such claims.

Official median government estimates put the value of the gas reserve almost 90 percent lower than the chamber’s figure, at around $5 billion.

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The chamber’s “white paper” on shale gas – published on a web site jointly run by the county and the University of Maryland Extension Service – contains mostly industry talking points and has drawn criticism for promoting gas-drilling while wildly exaggerating claims of its financial possibilities. The issue, which spawned several letters to the editor of The Republican, has been a hot topic locally and led to testy exchanges at a chamber-organized function this week in McHenry.

Those connected with the process say a lagging vacation tourism industry, for many years the Deep Creek Lake area’s economic engine, has local business elites and county officials looking for a replacement; some believe drilling for gas in the Marcellus and Utica shale deposits under the county is the best hope for the future, given tourism’s slide in a national economic slow-down now in its fourth year. Many others, at numerous public meetings over the last two years, have complained that tourism and industrial gas development are not compatible.

Meanwhile, a local businessman who says he helped with the chamber report – and with one by the Greater Cumberland Committee that contains identical financial claims – denies that he was the source for the exaggerated estimate, but says he doesn’t know where the information originated.

Jonathan “Smiley” Kessler, operator of several tourism-related businesses in Garrett County, said he expects horizontally “fractured” wells to be drilled soon on land he owns in Pennsylvania. He estimated what he called “pie in the sky” earnings from the drilling, but insists it “is summarily wrong” to conclude that information formed the basis for the chamber’s undocumented numbers.

Kessler redirected inquiries about documentation to chamber CEO Nicole Christian, who refused to discuss the matter, but said, “We believe our facts to be accurate,” despite the government revenue projection that is $42 billion lower – a gap about equal to oil-rich Alaska’s annual economic output.

Kessler distributed material about gas-drilling in mid-2011 to local policy-makers, including the Garrett County Board of Realtors, with a chart titled “Created for Board of Garrett County Commissioners.” That piece puts the true “total play revenue” not in the billions, but at “$31.4 trillion” – about twice the gross domestic product of the United States.

The only chamber representative willing to offer any explanations was Tony Doerr, a local businessman who was board chair when the white paper was released.

“Maybe we didn’t do our due diligence,” Doerr said. “I can see where it appears that way. Did we learn our lesson? ‘Cite your source.'”

Doerr said that the chamber board, with help from its legislative affairs committee, voted 14-0 to release the white paper. It calls for expediting the ongoing review of state regulations while ensuring “safe development.”

Doerr said he thought the paper, which also contradicts government estimates to claim the county could become a “leading gas supplier” to the Northeast, took a “soft enough stance that it wouldn’t cause anybody any grief.”

“But none of us on the board are educated enough [about shale gas] to say we are experts,” Doerr added.

Doerr, Kessler, and others say that many in the community are concerned about the tourism sector, creeping unemployment, and a dramatic fall in real estate sales.

“Deep Creek Lake is still the core of our community’s business,” summarized Doerr, who owns a construction company. “But we’re just not getting the growth out of it that is needed.”

More here.

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

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Garrett County Chamber of Commerce supports shale gas development

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce has adopted a position in support of Marcellus shale gas development and encourages the Maryland Department of the Environment to authorize the process of allowing for the safe extraction in the county, according to a white paper released last month.

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative Advisory Commission’s final report is set to be released in August 2014.

The white paper explains the chamber’s position and was distributed as a way to educate its members, according to Nicole Christian, president and CEO of the chamber, who is also a member of the Garrett County Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Advisory Committee.

“We recognize the impact that our nation’s energy dependency has had in shaping our domestic and foreign policy,” states the paper. “Although currently no national energy policy exists, we feel that it is likely that we will see a shift in favor of greater reliance on domestic energy sources, including natural gas. Our county is uniquely positioned to provide to our state and country the prospect of a substantial and viable energy source to meet our domestic needs now and in the future.”

The paper was drafted with the assistance of members of the chamber’s Legislative Affairs Committee and board of directors, according to Christian. It was distributed to Sen. George Edwards, Delegate Wendell Beitzel and The Greater Cumberland Committee.

The chamber represents more than 630 member firms, according to the paper. However, at least one of the firms that the chamber represents does not support the intent of the paper.

“I would like to go on record stating that we do not support this letter either in spirit, intent or content,” writes C.M. Herdering of Husky Power Dogsledding at Mountain MD Kennels, LLC. “Nor did we receive any request for input. Nor do we support ‘the expedited study of shale gas development,’ which the white paper proposes.”

The Legislative Affairs Committee is open to all members and every member had the opportunity to provide input, said Christian in an email to the Times-News.

“Is it too much to hope that the chamber withdraw this letter until after actually taking a poll of its members’ position on the subject?” writes Herdering. “I have no doubt … they can issue a more comprehensive and unbiased plan — a plan which balances growth, environmental safety and everyone’s quality of life.”

In other states where drilling has already occurred, communities have welcomed large increase in employment, which in turn spurs business growth and expansion; increase in tax revenues; and other tertiary activity, according to the paper. Landowners have also benefited in the form of leasing and royalty payments from gas drilling.

The Garrett County Farm Bureau has also voiced support for responsible, safe development of natural gas from shale and recognizes it as a potential revenue source, according to the paper.

“In a county where our largest source of revenue is from the recreation industry — those drawn by the beauty and contentment of our land — it astounds us that the chamber would support the massive industrialization that natural gas development would require,” writes Herdering. “There may be jobs and revenue created — but these are temporary jobs which leave a lasting and potentially irreparable scar on our landscape, way of life and tourism industry.”

It is estimated that the total maximum lifetime value of Marcellus shale play in Allegany County is $15.72 billion, and $32.4 billion in Garrett County, according to the paper. The Utica shale play is estimated to be even greater.

“The chamber recognizes that while shale gas development holds tremendous economic development potential, the growth of this industry also presents challenges, including strains on existing infrastructure as well as environmental impact concerns,” states the paper. “We cannot miss this incredible development opportunity and by working together we can ensure that shale gas development is handled correctly providing the greatest benefits with only minimal risks.”

Natural gas is difficult to extract from shale because the gas is trapped in tiny pores within the rock, according to the paper. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling have made extracting commercially via-ble in recent years. Fracking has been used in the county since the 1950s by Texas Easter Gas Pipeline Co. with no apparent negative impact, according to the paper.

Although the process of fracking has been around for decades, the technique for fracturing shale rock is somewhat new and has been used on Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. Activity in Maryland has not occurred yet, pending the development of regulations, according to the paper. Allegany and Garrett counties are the only areas in the state with natural gas reserves in Marcellus shale, according to a previous Times-News article.

“For a community that is so environmentally conscious and touts sustainability, we believe that Garrett County is perfectly suited to be a leader in supplying natural gas to the Eastern continental United States,” states the paper.

“We further believe that Maryland has the leadership in place to ensure that responsible drilling of shale gas can take place utilizing known techniques and best practices in a safe and responsible manner.”

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com

More here.

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

877-563-5350 – toll free — 

 Search Homes & Lots for Sale at Deep Creek Lake & Garrett County, Maryland