Maryland Finally Ready to Move Forward With Fracking
This week, outgoing Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced that he is ready to move forward with shale development in the state. The announcement comes after the release of the final draft of a three year study by the state Departments of Environmental and Natural Resources, which concluded:
“It is the judgment of the Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources that provided all the recommended best practices are followed and the State is able to rigorously monitor and enforce compliance, the risks of Marcellus Shale development can be managed to an acceptable level.”
This is great news for those living in Gannet and Allegany counties, which sit on top of the Marcellus shale and will reap vast economic benefits from development. As EID previously noted, a report from researchers at Towson University found that counties will benefit from thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in newfound revenue created from shale development. O’Malley recognizes these benefits, stating:
“We’re committed to ensuring that Marylanders have access to the economic opportunities associated with fracking.”
While O’Malley appears to be gung ho to approve development on his way out of office, it’s important to note that his administration is also proposing regulations that could actually make it impossible for the industry to operate and landowners to develop their mineral rights. This is something EID has noted before especially regarding the private water well setback of 2,000 feet.
Drew Cobbs, Executive Director of the Maryland Petroleum Council commented on the proposed regulations, stating:
“These would be the strictest rules for drilling in the country… The question is whether companies can operate under that. I don’t know.”
Taking over for Gov. O’Malley when he leaves office in January will be Gov.-Elect Larry Hogan who plans to review every draft regulation set forth by the O’Malley administration. Hogan knows how extensively shale development has been studied and plans to move quickly on a decision once he takes office. Hogan has called shale development an “economic gold mine” and faulted the state for taking too long to green-light the process.
States that have embraced shale development are seeing cheaper energy prices. Once shale development begins, folks in Maryland will see increased pipeline infrastructure to bring gas to new markets like New England, so instead of paying $21/Mcf this winter they should have more money to spend on their families during the holiday season.
It’s amazing that a poll in 2011 showed that 80 percent of Marylanders support the development of natural gas. Now, almost four years later, they will finally see the economic development they were looking for years ago.