Cumberland Times-News

Local News

July 10, 2013

Energy companies would need gas development plan before drilling

DNR, MDE representatives air key recommendations

MCHENRY — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of the Environment will be recommending several regulations for the drilling of the Marcellus shale formation in Maryland.

The recommendations were made at a public forum Tuesday evening at Garrett College on the current draft of the Best Management Practices for Marcellus Shale Development in Maryland report. The report is the second of three reports requested by Gov. Martin O’Malley’s safe drilling initiative. The primary focus of the report regarded environmental protection of potential drill sites.

Christine Conn of the DNR and Brigid Kenney of the MDE presented the key recommended regulations that will be brought up, should hydraulic fracturing come to Maryland. One regulation to be implemented will be a mandatory Comprehensive Gas Development Plan to be done by any energy company applying for a permit to drill in Maryland.

The plan will cover a report on the location a company wishes to drill at, how it will construct the well, materials that will be involved in drilling and other aspects in the production of the gas.

Conn explained the purpose of the plan is to allow the DNR and MDE, as well as other stakeholders, to recommend any changes to the company prior to drilling.

Although other states like Pennsylvania and Colorado have something similar to a CGDP in place, the plans are either voluntary or requested by the lease holder. This would make Maryland the first state to mandate a CGDP by a government agency as a prerequisite for applying for a permit.

This regulation is a cause for concern to those who want the drilling to come to Maryland, such as Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine. Valentine had previously stated his dislike for requiring a CGDP, saying “Maryland has only 1 percent of the Marcellus shale but will have the most stringent regulations of any state.”

Valentine is in favor of many of the recommendations but stated in a phone interview that he feels more regulations will decrease energy companies’ desire to drill in Maryland. “At one time there were hundreds of leases in Garrett County, but now there are no leases in Maryland,” Valentine said, citing that increase in regulation was to blame.

For Valentine, drilling is an issue of individual property rights and he is interested in allowing landowners to develop their property quickly. For many of the people attending the meeting Tuesday, it seemed the primary fear is environmental. Several people addressed their concerns over how the regulations would be enforced and the lack of risk assessment reports.

Conn and Kenney explained that they will consider doing a risk assessment, but the enforcement of the regulations will be an ongoing process.

The report can be found on the Internet at www.mde.state.md.us and a copy of the draft report will be sent to Ruth Enlow Library in Oakland and the Frostburg Community Library.

All comments and concerns must be submitted in writing by email to Marcellus.Advisory@maryland.gov or by mail to Brigid E. Kenney, Senior Policy Adviser, Maryland Department of the Environment, 1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore MD 21230.

Following an Aug. 9 deadline for comments, the final report will be compiled and released after all information is considered.

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