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Friday, November 28, 2014

MD Guv proposes nation's toughest fracking rules yet

Outgoing Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has proposed some of the nation’s strictest regulations on unconventional gas development after a comprehensive 3 1/2-year review process.

In the last of a series of reports, the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative’s Findings and Recommendations proposes an exhaustive list of requirements and practices. I’m very proud that they include a number of recommendations - including mandatory comprehensive gas development plans - which result from my work on the Governor’s initiative with the professionals of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources.

Other highlights of the proposed requirements:

The report concludes: 
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. Some of the proposed best management practices have not been tested, and although we are confident that they will reduce the risks, some risks will remain, as is the case with all industrial activities. Best practices and rigorous monitoring, inspection and enforcement can reduce the risks to acceptable levels, but can not completely eliminate all the risks. Because knowledge and technology are continuously advancing, it will be necessary to adaptively manage shale gas development by requiring additional newly developed best management practices that provide improved protection for public health and the environment.
What will happen to these recommendations? Incoming governor-elect Republican Larry Hogan has criticized the lack of drilling in the state’s two shale gas counties. Ultimately, then, whether or not Maryland enacts the nation’s toughest fracking regs will be up to its citizens.


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