Will Gas Well Fracking Come to Maryland?

In 2013, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) advertised proposed“Best Practices”governing fracking, for public comment. The document was the outgrowth of the recommendations of a gubernatorial blue-ribbon committee of industry representatives, environmentalists and other stakeholders. The committee studied the issue for approproximately two years, with special focus on the experiences in other neighboring states.

Advocates say that natural gas development would provide a much-needed economic boom to the westernmost counties of Maryland, which have struggled for jobs, population and money for decades. Opponents <a href="http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/index click for more info.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=3719:md-state-agency-puts-cart-before-horse-on-fracking&Itemid=23″ target=”_blank”>say that the direct and indirect environmental risk of fracking simply is too great to condone. Some environmentalists contend that by allowing fracking, the State would lessen the imperative that otherwise exsits to devleop cleaner and more renewable forms of energy. More than a few see the debate as a philosophical one between advocates of big, interventionist government and proponents of a less restrictive and more lasseiz-faire approach.

The primary gas bearing geologic formation in Maryland is called the Marcelllus Shale. Where the Marcellus occurs, water wells not infrequently are plagued with existing well yield and water quality challenges of natural origin. These challenges arise from the intrinsic hydrogeologic setting of the rocks. An element of the MDE proposal includes a requirement for a baseline hydrogeological assessment in an area proposed for exploratory natural gas well drilling. While certain petroleum industry representatives may balk at the cost and inconvenience of such baseline studies, ALWI presently believes that such pre-drilling assessments could be of great benefit to the petroleum industry by identifying pre-existing water supply problems. Frivolous lawsuits can arise from property owners, knowingly or otherwise, blaming naturally poor groundwater quality on petroleum projects in the area.

ALWI is well positioned to perform such baseline assessments, and to evaluate such pre-drilling submittals prepared by others, rapidly and cost-effectively. Our team of hydrogeologists and environmental scientists would be pleased to answer questions and/or offer professional assistance to entities with gas development plans or concerns about fracking proposals in their area.

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