How Maryland Screwed Garrett County Residents Out of Shale Money

Maryland’s heavily Democrat legislature is doing its best to slap a permanent ban on fracking in the state (see Maryland Democrat Lawmakers Continue to Torpedo Fracking). Such a ban would be a disaster for the state–and for landowners in places like Garrett County (far western MD) where there is Marcellus Shale gas. However, deep and long-lasting damage has already been done by Maryland legislators. In Garrett County energy companies once held leases on 100,000 acres of land–before the legislature and governor diddled away for four years. Today? There are remaining leases on 4,000 acres. That change represents millions of dollars that did not go into the pockets of MD landowners. Maryland seems to be in a race with New York to see which state is the most energy unfriendly state in the country…
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Friendsville, Maryland Pulls the Trigger, Commits Fracking Suicide

FriendsvilleBoom. The trigger was pulled and the depressed mental patient–in this case the Friendsville Town Council, has committed fracking suicide. MDN told you in March that the unfriendly people of Friendsville, Maryland were contemplating fracking suicide (see Friendsville, Maryland Votes to Commit Fracking Suicide). There was still hope that in the end Friendsville could be talked out of an enormously stupid, life-altering action. No more. On Tuesday the Town Council voted 5-1 to approve a permanent ban. You may recall there currently is no fracking in the entire state (see Maryland’s Pusillanimous Gov Allows Frack Moratorium to Become Law). Recently, however, the Maryland Dept. of the Environment (MDE) held a series of three public hearings to elicit feedback on fracking rules with an eye toward releasing them soon (see Anti Circus/Freak Show in W Maryland – Complete with Animals). Perhaps that’s what pushed the unfriendly folks in Friendsville to pull the trigger…
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Friendsville, Maryland Votes to Commit Fracking Suicide

FriendsvilleThere are precisely two counties in all of the State of Maryland that contain Marcellus Shale deposits under them–Garrett and Allegany counties, in the far western tip of the state. Maryland is currently under an idiotic temporary ban (see Maryland’s Pusillanimous Gov Allows Frack Moratorium to Become Law). In March we told you that Garrett County commissioners committed fracking suicide by banning fracking in 41,000 acres around a lake in the county (see Garrett County, Maryland Commissioners Commit Fracking Suicide). One day, even if fracking comes to Maryland, a large swatch in Garrett will be off limits. But why stop there? There’s plenty of dolts in Garrett County who want to join the suicide pact. The town of Friendsville, which isn’t so friendly, is about to pull the trigger and commit fracking suicide too…
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Garrett County, Maryland Commissioners Commit Fracking Suicide

As we told you on Monday, Garrett County, MD commissioners were contemplating committing fracking suicide by banning fracking in 41,000 acres around a lake in the county (see Maryland Continues to Shoot Itself in the Head re Shale Drilling). Even though the state hasn’t even allowed fracking yet, and even though Garrett is part of the one and a half counties with frackable shale gas under it. We’re sad to report the commissioners went ahead and pulled the trigger…
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Maryland Continues to Shoot Itself in the Head re Shale Drilling

Even the Republicans in Maryland are Democrats. That’s the only conclusion we can come to, to explain why politicians in Maryland keep shooting themselves in the head with respect to shale drilling. First, the state, under former governor Martin O’Malley (who tried to run for the Democrat nomination for president and washed out) studied fracking for four long, bloody years. There’s only drillable shale deposits under 1.5 counties in the entire state–in the far western corner (Garrett County and Allegany County). As he was leaving office, O’Malley–to his credit–teed up new fracking regulations that would allow the state to begin fracking THIS YEAR. Then the new Republican governor, Larry Hogan, took office as a supporter of natural gas. He promptly wimped out after the legislature voted on a new two-year moratorium. The legislators from Garrett & Allegany counties voted FOR the moratorium! Insane. And now, the Garrett County Commissioners are considering a frack ban around one of the lakes in the county. Hello! There ain’t that many places to drill in the first place in Maryland!…
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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 Shale Drilling Moratorium to be Debated in Legislature

Want to kill something? Just keep studying it. So says a very perceptive Maryland State Delegate, Wendell Beitzel, who represents Garrett County, MD. Beitzel wants to move forward with Marcellus drilling in Maryland. He faces an uphill battle. There’s a movement on right now to delay drilling by studying it to death (apparently Maryland is taking their cue from New York in that regard)…

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Anti-Drilling Group Attempts Head Fake with Maryland Senator

Maryland anti-drilling group CitizenShale is pressuring Maryland’s western senator, George Edwards, to support a moratorium on fracking in Maryland. CitizenShale is using head fakery by saying their request is that Edwards “not oppose” a new moratorium that will be introduced in January by anti-drillers from the Washington, D.C. suburbs (on the opposite side of the state).

The request from CitizenShale came at a pre-legislative meeting held at Garrett College (in Garrett County, one of two counties that have Marcellus Shale under them) where “residents” and those passing themselves off as residents gathered to talk about the upcoming Maryland legislative session that meets for just 90 days each year.

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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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Maryland Legislature Will Consider Whether or Not to Approve Hydraulic Fracturing

Looks like we have dueling pieces of legislation before the Maryland legislature, one bill that would force the state’s Department of the Environment to either officially approve or deny permits by Samson Energy to drill in Western Maryland. The other bill would put a hold on drilling until “further studies” can determine whether or not it’s safe.

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