Ho­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­poses ‘strin­gent’ frack­ing reg­u­la­tions

Assem­bly panel to re­view re­stric­tions on gas drilling in Western Mary­land

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Scott Dance sdance@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/BaltSunGreen

“If frack­ing ever comes to Western Mary­land, these rig­or­ous reg­u­la­tions will be in place be­fore­hand.”

The Ho­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion has pro­posed rules that would pro­hibit the gas-drilling tech­nique known as frack­ing within 1,000 feet of a pri­vate drink­ing wa­ter well, re­quire steel cas­ings around gas bores to a depth of100 feet, and re­quire en­ergy com­pa­nies to re­place any wa­ter sup­ply that is con­tam­i­nated by the prac­tice.

The Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment sub­mit­ted the mea­sures Mon­day to a leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee that re­views reg­u­la­tions, a year be­fore a state ban on frack­ing ends.

The plan was un­veiled five days ahead of the Oct. 1 dead­line set by law­mak­ers for the rules to be for­mally adopted. Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment of­fi­cials now ex­pect the ap­proval process to fin­ish by the end of the year in­stead.

Sec­re­tary Ben Grum­bles said the rules “will be the most strin­gent and pro­tec­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal shale reg­u­la­tions in the coun­try.”

“If frack­ing ever comes to Western Mary­land, these rig­or­ous reg­u­la­tions will be in place be­fore­hand to help en­sure safe and re­spon­si­ble en­ergy devel­op­ment,” Grum­bles said in a state­ment.

Hy­draulic frac­tur­ing in­volves in­ject­ing flu­ids at high pres­sure into the ground to re­lease nat­u­ral gas stored within the rock. In Mary­land, en­ergy com­pa­nies want to drill into the Mar­cel­lus shale rock for­ma­tion un­der Gar­rett and Al­le­gany coun­ties.

The reg­u­la­tions dif­fer sig­nif­i­cantly from rules drafted un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley, a Demo­crat.

Repub­li­can Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion is propos­ing that frack­ing be per­mit­ted closer to homes and wells than would have been al­lowed un­der O’Mal­ley, but it is also re­quir­ing more lay­ers of cas­ing around bores close to the sur­face.

In re­sponse to con­cerns about the risks of wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion, the Ho­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion also pro­poses a ban on frack­ing within the wa­ter­sheds of three reser­voirs in Gar­rett County.

The Gen­eral Assem­bly passed leg­is­la­tion last year re­quir­ing the en­vi­ron­ment depart­ment to write the reg­u­la­tions. It be­came law with­out Ho­gan’s sig­na­ture.

Op­po­nents of frack­ing said the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions don’t change their plans to push for a per­ma­nent ban on the prac­tice.

Na­dine Gra­ba­nia, sec­re­tary of Citizen Shale in Western Mary­land, said the group “has no con­fi­dence in the state’s abil­ity to

Ben Grum­bles, sec­re­tary of the en­vi­ron­ment

reg­u­late this haz­ardous ac­tiv­ity, nor in its com­mit­ment to mon­i­tor and en­force those reg­u­la­tions.”

Del. Sandy Rosenberg, the House chair of the Joint Com­mit­tee on Ad­min­is­tra­tive, Ex­ec­u­tive and Leg­isla­tive Re­view, said the panel would re­view the reg­u­la­tions and would be open to ne­go­ti­a­tions over any dif­fer­ences of opin­ion.

State en­vi­ron­ment of­fi­cials said they ex­pect the rules to be for­mally pro­posed Nov. 14. Af­ter that, they will be sub­ject to a 30-day pub­lic com­ment pe­riod.

Rosenberg, a Demo­crat, said the leg­isla­tive ses­sion be­gin­ning in Jan­uary will of­fer a more sub­stan­tial fo­rum for dis­cus­sions about frack­ing.

“It’s a more pub­lic op­por­tu­nity for the ad­vo­cacy com­mu­nity and the depart­ment to sit down and seek to re­solve their dif­fer­ences,” he said.


Hamp­stead na­tive and North Car­roll grad­u­ate Katie Hursey Zaferes greets Jim Moore be­fore speak­ing at Manch­ester Val­ley High School on Tues­day night about her life com­pet­ing in triathlons, most re­cently as a mem­ber of the U.S. Olympic triathlon team in Rio de Janeiro in Au­gust.

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