Outgoing Maryland governor moving ahead on fracing regulations

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to propose regulations that would allow hydraulic fracturing in western Maryland provided that natural gas companies adhere to certain restrictions to limit the risks of water contamination and air pollution.

O’Malley said the proposals will stem from more than 3 years of study by state agencies into whether Maryland should allow drilling in the Marcellus shale. On Nov. 25, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources released a draft report recommending that drilling be allowed in Garrett and Allegany counties.

The amount of gas in western Maryland is believed to be small compared to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where fracing is allowed. The Marcellus and the deeper Utica shale formations have not been explored in Maryland, the draft report said.

Meanwhile, Gov.-elect Larry Hogan is scheduled to take office Jan. 21, and any fracturing regulations would be implemented during his administration.

“We’re committed to ensuring that Marylanders have access to the economic opportunities associated with [hydraulic fracturing] while also putting the most complete practices into place to ensure the highest level of protection for Maryland residents,” O’Malley said.

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