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Maryland Lagging on ‘Fracking’ While Neighbor States Prosper

December 26th, 2013 by WCBC Radio

The natural gas bonanza that has enriched some Appalachian states has so far eluded Western Maryland as market forces and a drawn-out state review of the drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing have weakened the region’s appeal to the energy industry. While Maryland officials painstakingly develop safe drilling rules, heavy production elsewhere, including neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia, has pushed wholesale natural gas prices to about a third of what they were in July 2008. Industry officials say that’s one reason drilling companies have allowed many of their leases on at least 89,000 acres in Allegany and Garrett counties in Maryland to lapse. Any return on investment in Western Maryland is probably years away. A state panel’s recommendations for safe drilling are due in August, but the commission is behind schedule. Its interim report on “best practices” is expected in February, 18 months past the date specified in Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley’s 2011 executive order. Drew Cobbs, executive director of the Maryland Petroleum Council,  said studies show western Maryland is losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue…


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