Frack­ing rules are too strict

En­ergy in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tive says reg­u­la­tions will sti­fle gas in­dus­try

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Drew Cobbs, An­napo­lis The writer is ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Mary­land Pe­tro­leum Coun­cil.

If ap­proved, Mary­land’s pro­posed hy­draulic frac­tur­ing reg­u­la­tions will be the most rig­or­ous in the United States. Yet, as writ­ten, the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions are so re­stric­tive they could sig­nif­i­cantly limit Western Mary­land’s op­por­tu­nity for eco­nomic gains and job cre­ation — with­out ap­pre­cia­bly mak­ing an al­ready safe process any safer (“State in­tro­duces frack­ing reg­u­la­tions, one year be­fore ban’s end,” Sept. 27).

Pro­posed reg­u­la­tions like set­back re­quire­ments that go far­ther than other states with prom­i­nent pro­duc­tion, ex­ces­sive re­quire­ments for ad­di­tional lay­ers of cas­ing and well con­struc­tion and re­stric­tions plac­ing wa­ter­sheds in Western Mary­land com­pletely off lim­its could sti­fle jobs and re­strict eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

The oil and nat­u­ral gas in­dus­try has proven its abil­ity, through the de­vel­op­ment of mil­lions of wells dur­ing the tech­nol­ogy’s 65-year his­tory, to pro­tect public health and meet strict en­vi­ron­men­tal goals with­out overly re­stric­tive reg­u­la­tions like these. A five-year, multi-mil­lion dol­lar U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency study re­leased last year found that frack­ing has not led to wide­spread, sys­temic im­pacts on drink­ing water. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Univer­sity of Cincin­nati re­cently com­pleted a three-year study in which re­searchers ex­am­ined water sam­ples three to four times per year from 23 wells in the Utica shale re­gion, find­ing no ev­i­dence link­ing frack­ing to ground­wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion.

Thanks to hy­draulic frac­tur­ing and hor­i­zon­tal drilling, the U.S. leads the world not only in pro­duc­tion of oil and nat­u­ral gas but in re­duc­tion of green­house gas emis­sions like car­bon which are near 20-year lows due to avail­abil­ity of clean-burn­ing nat­u­ral gas.

Prac­ti­cal and rea­son­able poli­cies can at­tract new in­vest­ment to Western Mary­land where they are greatly needed. But, as we fi­nal­ize hy­draulic frac­tur­ing reg­u­la­tions, let’s make sure we’re not tak­ing one step for­ward and two steps back.

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