Cumberland Times-News

Local News

July 12, 2014

State recommends tight restrictions on gas drilling

Md. regulators looking to protect water supply

— HAGERSTOWN — State regulators on Friday recommended some of the nation’s tightest restrictions on shale gas drilling, aimed partly at protecting drinking water from being contaminated by methane leaking from drill sites in Western Maryland.

The “best practices” recommended by the departments of the environment and natural resources include a general, 2,000-foot buffer between hydraulic-fracturing drill rigs and private water wells. That’s twice the distance Maryland currently requires between gas wells and private water wells, and a bigger setback than any other state mandates, said Brigid Kenney, a senior policy adviser with the Department of the Environment.

The report also recommends that any company seeking to drill for gas in Maryland’s portion of the Marcellus shale must first file a comprehensive plan for all foreseeable gas development in an area rather than for each well individually. Colorado has a similar, voluntary program, but Maryland’s would be mandatory.

The interim report stems from the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative, an effort launched by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2011 to devise environmentally sound rules for hydraulic fracturing in Maryland. No drilling will be permitted until the state adopts rules based on a final report expected this fall.

Kenney said Friday’s recommendations have no effect until they are written into regulations or permit conditions.

The report comes about two years after the deadline specified in O’Malley’s 2011 executive order. The Maryland Petroleum Council has complained that the lengthy process and the prospect of overly restrictive rules could discourage companies from drilling in the state.

The recommendations released Friday would prohibit drilling within 2,000 feet of private drinking-water wells unless the applicant can show that groundwater doesn’t flow from the proposed drill site toward the water well. In that case, if the water-well owner agrees, the drill site could be as close as 1,000 feet from the water well.

Another recommendation would put a 1,000-foot buffer between gas wells and the outer boundary of a public-water protection area, such as a public watershed.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Kona Ice owners dole out treats, give back to the community Kona Ice owners dole out treats, give back to the community

    CUMBERLAND — In addition to serving tasty treats and putting a smile on patrons’ faces, Oakland residents Wheeler Stewart and Jeff Orr, owners/operators of Kona Ice Mountain Maryland, do their part to give back to Allegany and Garrett counties. The number one theme of Kona Ice is that if you give it back, it’s going to come back to you, said Stewart.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 2.jpg New 'very eclectic' business opens in Cumberland

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Advocates call for expansion of summer lunch program

    CUMBERLAND — It’s the first year that St. John’s Lutheran Church on Arch Street has participated in the summer lunch program for children. The Rev. Tormod Svensson, the pastor at the church, said that while the church has offered food programs before, this is the first time they’ve been officially part of the Summer Food Service Program.

    July 23, 2014

  • Two face additional charges in child’s death

    MOOREFIELD, W.Va. — West Virginia State Police have served arrest warrants on Joseph A. Christy and Summer L. McDaniel in the case of their 26-day-old infant’s death.

    July 23, 2014

  • Helping others Helping others

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commissioners set to vote on plan

    CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners are scheduled Thursday to vote on the 266-page, 2014 Allegany County Comprehensive Plan. The portion of the plan that has stirred some controversy is the inclusion of the Terrapin Run Development. If commissioners approve the plan, the development will be an official part of the county’s land use development plan for the future.

    July 23, 2014

  • Iron Rail Street fire Faulty electrical outlet sparks Mount Savage fire

    MOUNT SAVAGE — Tuesday’s fire that caused an estimated $30,000 property loss in a residence on Iron Rail Street has been determined to be accidental, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • In Brief - 07/24

    July 23, 2014

  • Frostburg to use ARC grant for Braddock Road improvements

    FROSTBURG — The city of Frostburg will use a $1.275 million federal grant to improve access to a 25-plus acre site that is available for commercial and industrial development, according to an announcement by U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski.

    July 23, 2014

  • Shooting suspects arrested at Altoona mall

    July 23, 2014