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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Will "Fracking" come to Maryland??

        Last night I attended a meeting at the East Columbia Library hosted by the Climate Change Initiative of Howard County on the study currently being done in Maryland to determine "if" or "how" fracking will be permitted in Western Maryland.  I have blogged before on the impact of fracturing underground shale to release natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale Field that goes through parts of Allegany and Garrett Counties.  As shown in the film Gasland, the issue of fracking has raised legitimate environmental issues in Pennsylvania.
Last night Del. Heather Mizeur and other speakers talked about the work of a commission appointed by Gov. O'Malley to study how Maryland should approach the possibility of permitting fracking in Western Maryland.
      Any discussion of how our Country meets its growing energy needs tends to breakdown into partisan disagreements that pit energy producers against conservationists.  Fracking is just the latest energy production method to be thrown into this energy debate with nuclear power, off shore drilling, solar power, wind power and the Keystone pipeline. The controversy around fracking is the environmental impacts of the chemicals used with the water that is pumped into the shale to release the natural gas.  The use of chemicals in the fracking process has been exempted from meeting the requirements of the Clean Water regulations passed by Congress back in the 1970's.  Halleburton Corporation lobbied for this exemption by saying that the proprietary rights of the company would be violated in having to publicly release the information on the chemicals used.  One of the issues that the Maryland Commission is examining is how the water returned from fracking is processed to remove any harmful chemicals.  Can water treatment plants remove the chemicals safely? Or better yet how can the chemicals be prevented from contaminating the ground water.  The Commission is supposed to release its report by this December.
So how does this issue impact Howard County?  As the map above shows the area of tributaries that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.  Some of the tributaries from Western Maryland flow through Howard County. Plus the area of the the Marcellus Shale formation covers much of the Bay's watershed.

Check out the Howard County Historical Society's new website.

P.S. 2
Speaking of Del. Mizeur, check out her speaking on another legislative bill this session in the Maryland Legislature.


Anonymous said...

Be sure to watch the March 21,2012 9:30 p.m. MD Public TV show about Marcellus shale gas drilling and economic impact on Garrett County, MD., etc. My husband and I, who farm 370 acres in Garrett, are included in the TV piece. TV producer spend six hours on our farm and with many others affected by gas drilling, pro and con.

Ernest Hilsenrath said...

An important point highlighted by Mike Tidwell is that methane gas losses during the fracking and the operational pumping process contributes significantly to GHG loading which more than offsets the benefit of lower CO2 emission from natural gas (methane) burning for energy. It would be great if natural gas could be the "bridge" to sustainable energy, but the new technology needed to overcome both chemical leakage and methane losses is formidable. I would like to believe it's possible. But who will make those technology investments?

Ruth Alice said...

Duane, thanks for great coverage of this event. I agree with Ernie though that as Mike Tidwell said, the danger from release of methane gas contributing to climate change is a paramount danger. I learned a lot from all the speakers, and don't see how this process can be considered "safe". Why are we not just investing in renewable energy and energy conservation? See a few pictures from the event at

Dave Matthews said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dave Matthews said...

The issue of Fracking for natural gas may be much more significant than the general public has been led to believe, from the standpoint of both environment and health.

Thanks for including a link to PBS's very informative segment of the film "GasLand." Viewers who found it of interest might also want to see the complete movie, that's currently available on-line in the Documentaries section of Kilroy's Classic Film Festival (under G), at:

Image quality is good, and the full-screen option is available. However, if you prefer *not* to watch it on your computer, the DVD should be available from most HoCo Library branches.

Thanks to Blog-Master Duane for deleting my initial comment on this topic, at my request, as contained a couple of inadvertent errors.

Anonymous said...

This has just been launched: It's a documentary that will finally tell the truth about fracking, funded by people!