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.”