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Fracking in Maryland

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Fracking in Maryland
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Fracking in Maryland depends on available energy resources, the location of these resources, applicable laws and regulations, politics, and the power of environmental and industry groups. Decisions by policymakers and citizens, including state and local governments and ballot initiatives, affect if and how fracking occurs in a state.

Current events

Two western Maryland counties (Garrett and Allegany) overlie the Marcellus Shale, meaning that fracking could be practiced in the state. A 2011 executive order from Governor Martin O'Malley called for three studies to be done on the potential impacts of fracking in Maryland before any drilling could occur. The first study was released in June 2014, the second in August 2014, and a draft of the third study was released in October 2014. Until a final report is released, there is a de facto moratorium on fracking in Maryland.[2][3]

The first study, released in June 2014, reviewed the potential human health impacts of fracking. According to a report in the Cumberland Times-News, the study found that "fracking could produce volatile organic compounds and result in truck traffic -- estimated at 6,000 trips per well tap -- that could spread chemicals, create noise pollution and road damage. The study found chemicals could be introduced by air, dust, soil, food and water."[1][4]

The second study, completed by the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health at the University of Maryland, outlined 52 recommendations for the state to implement. These recommendations included a chemical disclosure requirement for fracking fluid, a setback requirement for restricting how close wells can be to homes and other buildings, and wastewater injection limitations. The study further warned of potential air and water pollution problems.[1][5][2][3]

The third study, a review of potential risks to water resources in the state, was prepared by the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The report found that, according to The Washington Post, "existing regulations and proposed best practices for gas drilling would protect public drinking water sources, and the risk of contamination to private water wells is low under most scenarios." The most serious risk to groundwater--considered to be "moderate"--is the potential for well casing or cement failure. The report stated that the risk of water contamination was low, if oil or gas wells were required to be 3,250 feet from existing drinking water wells. The governor's office is expected to announce a decision regarding the future of fracking in the state before the end of 2014.[6][7]

A bill was introduced in the state senate in early 2014 that would have banned fracking in Maryland, but it died in committee.[8][9]

For information on proposed fracking legislation in Maryland see here.

Fracking background

See also: Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is the process of injecting fluid--mostly water and sand, but with additional chemicals--into the ground at a high pressure to fracture shale rocks and release the oil and natural gas inside.

Recent technological advances in oil and gas drilling--horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing--have created a wealth of opportunities and challenges for states with fossil fuel reserves that can be accessed through the combination of these two technologies. The increased use of fracking has been an economic boon for many states, not only those with fracking, but also those with supporting industries, such as frac sand mining or associated machinery manufacturing.

Opponents of fracking argue that the potential negative environmental and human health impacts could be significant. Although wells have been fracked for over 65 years in the United States, concerns have been raised about whether federal, state and local regulatory agencies can keep up with the recent rapid increase in fracking activity, and adequately protect the environment and human health. As with any type of energy extraction, either traditional or renewable, there are economic, environmental and political trade-offs.

Fracking-related legislation


On January 19, 2015, Maryland State Senators James Brochin (D), Jamie Raskin (D) and Robert Zirkin (D) sponsored a bill in the Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee that would ban fracking as well as the storage, disposal or treatment of fracking wastewater in the state.[10][11]

On February 6, 2015 the Maryland Protect our Health and Communities Act, SB 409, was read in the Maryland State Senate's Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee by Karen Montgomery (D). The bill was co-sponsored by 11 other Democrats. The bill puts a moratorium on fracking in Maryland until a panel can examine and report on the scientific literature around the practice of hydraulic fracturing. A similar bill, HB 449, was introduced into the Maryland House of Representatives on February 8, 2015. That bill is sponsored by David Fraser-Hidalgo (D) in addition to at least 13 other Democrats.[12][13][14]

On February 9, 2015 HB 458, titled Exploration and Production Waste and Waste From Hydraulic Fracturing, was introduced in the Maryland House of Representatives by A. Shane Robinson (D) and 17 Democratic co-sponsors. This bill would require all waste generated during the fracking process to be treated as a controlled hazardous substance. Further, the bill would prohibit the collection, storage, transportation or treatment of fracking-related waste in Maryland.[15][16]

Natural gas use in Maryland

For more information on energy consumption in Maryland see, "Energy policy in Maryland"

The transportation, commercial and residential sectors each consume approximately 30 percent of energy in the state. The industrial sector is relatively small, only accounting for about 10 percent of total energy consumption. Petroleum is the leading source of energy consumption in Maryland, followed by coal, natural gas and nuclear electric power.[1]

Consumption of energy for heating homes in Maryland
Source Maryland 2011 U.S. average 2011
Natural gas 44.1% 49.5%
Fuel oil 10.5% 6.5%
Electricity 40.1% 35.4%
Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG) 3.1% 5%
Other/none 2.2% 3.6%

Maryland produced a very small amount of natural gas in 2011. The exact amount was not specified by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as it was less than 0.05 billion BTU.[17]

Where electricity comes from in Maryland[18]
Type Amount generated (MWh) % of state** % of U.S.**
Petroleum-fired 9,000 0.31% 0.03%
Natural gas-fired 79,000 2.72% 0.01%
Coal-fired 1,349,000 46.42% 0.08%
Nuclear 1,279,000 44.01% 0.16%
Hydroelectric 77,000 2.65% 0.02%
Other renewables 89,000 3.06% 0.04%
Total net electricity generation 2,906,000 100% 0.07%
**Note: Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) does not include all of a state's energy production in these figures, the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead, we have generated our own percentages.

News items

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Maryland+Fracking"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Maryland Fracking News Feed

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See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Maryland Profile Analysis," updated December 18, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Washington Post, "Fracking could threaten air quality, workers’ health, latest report says," August 18, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Baltimore Sun, "UM study warns of health impacts from fracking," August 18, 2014
  4. Cumberland Times-News, "Study assesses health implications of fracking in Maryland," June 28, 2014 (dead link)
  5. Cumberland Times-News, "Study assesses health implications of fracking in Maryland," June 28, 2014 (dead link)
  6. The Washington Post, "Maryland sees little risk to water from fracking," October 3, 2014
  7. Maryland Department of the Environment, "Marcellus Shale Risk Assessment," accessed October 6, 2014
  8. General Assembly of Maryland, "SB 360," accessed July 8, 2014
  9. Capital Gazette, "Bill to ban fracking in Maryland lacking support," February 6, 2014 (dead link)
  10. Maryland State Senate, "Senate Bill 29," accessed January 22, 2015
  11. Open States, "SB 29," accessed January 29, 2015
  12. Maryland State Senate, "Senate Bill 409," February 6, 2015
  13. Open States, "SB 409," accessed February 13, 2015
  14. Open States, "HB 499," accessed February 13, 2015
  15. Maryland House of Representatives, "House Bill 458," February 9, 2015
  16. Open Secrets, "HB 458," accessed February 13, 2015
  17. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “State Energy Data System, Production,” accessed March 4, 2014
  18. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Maryland Profile Overview," accessed March 4, 2014