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.

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 the third study is expected before the end of 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. The governor's office is expected to announce a decision regarding the future of fracking in the state before the end of 2014.[1][5][2][3]

A bill was introduced in the state senate in early 2014 that would have banned fracking in Maryland, but it died in committee.[6][7]

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 that have fossil fuel reserves that can be accessed through the combination of these two technologies and the industries that support them. The increased use of fracking has been an economic boon for states, not only those with fracking but also those with supporting industries, such as frac sand mining or associated machinery manufacturing.

Those opposed to fracking argue that the potential environmental and human health impacts could be large. Although wells have been fracked for over 65 years in the U.S., concerns have been raised over the ability for federal, state and local regulatory agencies to keep up with the recent and rapid growth and adequately protect the environment and human health. As with any type of energy extraction, either traditional or renewable, there are tradeoffs.

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.[8]

Where electricity comes from in Maryland[9]
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

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See also

External links

References