Maryland Releases 2nd Report on Shale Drilling: “Best Practices”

Maryland finally released their “Internal Final Best Practices” (Part II) study on Friday. The behemoth 255-page study (full copy below) appears to be an exercise in how to stifle Marcellus Shale drilling in the two western Maryland counties where it’s found. This is the second of three reports being produced by a joint effort of the Maryland Dept. of the Environment (MDE) and the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), as required under an executive order from outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley (see Maryland Marcellus Shale Commission to Have First Meeting This Week – One Meeting Down, Three More Years of Meetings to Go). There’s lots to like in this so-called best practices (more like “no practices”) report–if you’re anti-drilling…
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Maryland Study: Marcellus Drilling Huge Benefit for Western MD

A new study recently released by the Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI) at Towson University says if Maryland would only allow Marcellus Shale drilling, two western MD counties would reap huge benefits. The study, “Impact Analysis of the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative” (full copy embedded below) says Allegany and Garrett counties would benefit from thousands of new jobs and hundreds of million dollars in newfound revenue…
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Maryland Update: Marcellus Drilling a Distant & Ellusive Dream

A periodic check on the state of shale drilling in Maryland shows that like New York, Maryland has all but killed drilling in their state with a long, drawn-out, so-called “review” of fracking. The price of gas is so low, and the prospects and ease of drilling in neighboring states like PA, WV and OH is so convenient, that most energy companies have simply said “bye bye” to the two counties in western MD that contain recoverable Marcellus Shale gas.

Will there ever be drilling in MD? Oh perhaps one day, if Maryland politicians (mostly Democrats) ever get off the metaphorical pot and get regulations adopted to allow it. However, at this point the prospects are pretty grim. Energy companies are letting years-old leases lapse, writing them off as losses and not re-signing, which is bad news for Maryland landowners in Garrett and Allegany counties. All four companies that had previously filed for permits to drill shale wells have withdrawn those permits. In other words, Marcellus drilling in MD is, at this point, dead as a door nail. Here’s an update on the MD situation from the “helpful” AP:
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Maryland Releases Draft “Best Practices” in Shale Drilling Report

On Tuesday, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released a draft report (dated August 2013) of “best practices for drilling and production that should be required” if (really big if) horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is permitted in the Marcellus shale in Maryland (full copy of the draft report is embedded below). At least one county official in one of the two Maryland counties that actually has Marcellus Shale under it is concerned that drillers will take one look at the proposed regulations and say “no thanks” to Maryland when it comes to drilling. He’s right to be concerned…
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Marcellus Drilling #1 Priority for Western MD Legislators

With strong headwinds against shale drilling from both Maryland’s Democrat governor, Martin O’Malley, and from Washington, D.C. area Democrat Maryland legislators, the legislators from western Maryland who want to see Marcellus Shale drilling face an uphill climb.

Nevertheless, when the next session of the Maryland legislature meets, western MD reps will make Marcellus drilling their top priority:

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Maryland Delegates Propose 15% Severance Tax

They must be smoking something good in Maryland—at least in the Maryland House of Delegates where Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore) and Del. Sheila Hixson (D-Montgomery) introduced a bill last Friday that would require the state collect 15 percent of the wholesale value of any natural gas produced from Maryland’s portion of the Marcellus Shale.

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Maryland Marcellus Shale Commission to Have First Meeting This Week – One Meeting Down, Three More Years of Meetings to Go

Gov. Martin O'MalleyMaryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has effectively taken his state out of consideration for Marcellus Shale drilling. How? He’s appointed a commission to study that which has already been studied to death, to have meetings, to issue preliminary reports, have more meetings, and issue a final report in August 2014, years after drilling will already be firmly established in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and (perhaps) New York. A relatively small area of Maryland sits atop the Marcellus—two rural counties in the panhandle of Maryland: Allegany and Garrett counties. Both counties have high unemployment and would greatly benefit from Marcellus gas drilling, but the landowners and the people who could be employed by the drilling industry in those communities will not benefit from drilling for many years to come because of Gov. O’Malley’s delays.

So it’s of note, but of little consequence, that the kick-off meeting for Gov. O’Malley’s recently appointed Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission will happen this Thursday at 9:30 am at the Lakeside Visitors Center at Rocky Gap State Park. The meeting is open to the public. Below is a recent press release announcing the people appointed to O’Malley’s Commission.

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Maryland Gov. O’Malley Issues Order to Study Marcellus Shale Drilling – State Will Not See Drilling Until 2014 Earliest

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley yesterday signed an executive order requiring two Maryland agencies—the Department of of the Environment (MDE) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to conduct a study on the impacts of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

Gov. O’Malley’s order is called the “Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative” and it sets up a board to work with both the MDE and DRN during the process. The board will be composed of representatives from both the environmental community and the drilling industry, as well as a private citizen from Western Maryland. The Marcellus Shale region only touches a small portion of Maryland, running through the “panhandle” counties of the state—underneath all of Garrett County and much of Allegany County.

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