It’s really kind of funny to watch lawmakers and “leaders” in the state of Maryland talk about drilling in the Marcellus Shale, which, if it were to happen in the state, would happen in two western counties: Garrett and Allegany. Earlier this year Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed a 14-member commission to study the drilling issue, with a final report not due until 2014.
It’s a really big “if” that shale drilling will even be allowed in the state, but just in case it were to be allowed, politicians from Washington, D.C. suburbs (like Montgomery County, Maryland) want to tax the living daylights out of it:
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is hopeful that the Republican-controlled Senate and House will pass new Marcellus Shale drilling legislation that reaches him by year’s end. But one of the political footballs is working out the issue of setbacks, or how far away a gas well can be drilled from a body of water like a creek, a private water well or a spring. Put the gas well too close and critics argue you increase the chance that an accident can damage the water supply. But make setbacks too far and it makes it practically impossible to drill any wells because the state has so many small waterways. That is, it becomes a back door way to prevent all drilling.
Here is the current state of play between the two differing versions of legislation that have passed in the Senate and House which now need to be reconciled before reaching Gov. Corbett:
The Smith-Goshen Landowners Group in Belmont County, OH currently has 600 members and 45,000 acres of Utica Shale land available for lease. But they’re taking it slow and looking for a lease that will guarantee the safety of their farms and water supplies, according to Larry Cain, chairman of the group. They’re also looking for an even better deal than other landowners in Belmont County recently got from XTO Energy (a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil).
Survey work in central Ohio has already begun on a new ethane pipeline to be built by Enterprise Products Partners. The pipeline, which was recently announced (see this MDN story), will reach from the Marcellus and Utica Shale region in Washington County, PA all the way to Cape Girardeau, MO where it will connect with an existing pipeline to the Gulf Coast. Surveyors for the new pipeline have already turned up in Fairfield County, OH.