Maryland Legislature Fails to Act on Fracking Bill

Forgive the editorial smirk, but MDN always enjoys reading about the status of fracking in Maryland because Maryland is the only place even more dysfunctional than New York (MDN’s home turf) when it comes to the issue of hydraulic fracturing. The Maryland General Assembly meets in session for 90 days each year to pass new legislation. The session for 2012 has just ended and several bills dealing with hydraulic fracturing did not receive enough support to come to a vote.

Attempts to ensure that Maryland is spared any ill effects from the controversial drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing to tap natural gas trapped in shale thousands of feet underground also suffered setbacks. A measure to impose a fee on leases to fund a study did not get a vote in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

“We’re still considering how to proceed,” said Jay Apperson, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment, where seven applications to “frack” for gas in the Marcellus Shale deposit under western Maryland are inactive and one for a site southwest of Oakland is pending.

Although a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing remains in effect in Maryland through an executive order, the final study to recommend whether fracking should be allowed is not funded. The fee was proposed to raise almost $2 million to pay for an investigation of how such drilling — and work associated with it, including the disposal of toxic fluids injected to blast rock — could affect the land, water, air, wildlife, public health and the economy.

The second part of the study, to determine best practices, is under way, and that report is due Aug. 1, Apperson noted.*

MDN would like to know how the good citizens of Maryland dispose of the “toxic fluids” underneath their kitchen sinks—the very same chemicals that are used in fracking? Perhaps the dysfunctional Maryland legislature’s time would be better spent pondering that issue.

*Gazette.Net (Apr 13, 2012) – Session serves up mixed bag for environment