Officials Run First-Ever Fracking Poll

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A valuable resource deep under Maryland has surfaced on the public’s radar. Hydraulic fracturing—fracking, for short—is the subject of a first-ever poll.

Alex DeMetrick runs the numbers.

A drilling boom is happening in states all around Maryland, as vast and largely untapped natural gas reserves are brought to the surface. It’s found in a massive vein of shale that also runs through western Maryland, and it’s extracted by hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

“We break the rock. We fracture the rock,” said one official.

They inject a mix of water and toxic chemicals into the shale deposit under tremendous pressure, which releases the gas. But it’s also created problems.

“Having flammable tap water. We don’t have the earthquakes that are happening in Ohio and there aren’t fishkills and livestock falling over dead because of contamination,” said Delegate Heather Mizeur.

The cows died after chemicals used in fracking drained into their pasture. Flaming tap water is the result of methane gas that seeped into wells near fracking sites and, as Maryland legislators debate fracking here, a poll asked 600 residents their opinion.

“So 71 percent of Marylanders want some sort of safety studies done first and over 80 percent of Marylanders believe the energy companies themselves should pay for the studies, instead of taxpayers,” said Mike Tidwell.

“From Baltimore to Deep Creek Lake, the Marylanders overwhelmingly support our go slow approach on fracking,” Mizeur said.

The House of Delegates has already approved that idea of studying first and drilling later.

The House bill now before the Senate would charge energy companies $15 an acre to raise the $2 million needed to do the fracking studies.

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