Reporting Alex DeMetrick
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Even though it promises money and jobs, efforts are underway to keep fracking from Maryland. At least until the risks are evaluated.
Alex DeMetrick reports the controversial drilling technique has freed up huge reserves of natural gas as well as worry.
The wells travel the spine of a vast deposit of shale rich in natural gas. High pressure streams of water and chemicals fracture the shale and release the gas.
It’s called fracking, and now legislation has been introduced that would put a moratorium on fracking in Maryland.
“There’s been a lot of negative consequences from this type of drilling, and in other states they’ve drilled first and asked questions later. And in Maryland we’re saying we want the answers first,” said Del. Heather Mizeur, (D) Montgomery County.
They want answers to things like the water contamination that killed cows near a fracking site or the release of toxic gases from well heads or the water that turned foul in wells near fracking operations.
“The water came out looking like coffee with milk in it,” said a Pennsylvania homeowner.
The proposed law would require study and review before any drilling.
“Those safety studies have to outline the risks that might be involved,” said Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Then the General Assembly has 18 months to digest those study findings.”
But the benefits include jobs, 600,000 now, growing to 870,000 by 2015.
Maryland’s Department of Environment estimates 2,000 wells could be drilled in Western Maryland, and those property owners could make a lot of money in lease agreements.
“The more revenue that can be had, the greater the success for the livelihood of Garrett County,” said Fred Fox, Garrett County landowner.
Fox’s family has been in Garrett County for a century and while the prospect of money is welcome, “There is risk, so this bill simply says let’s do it safely, make sure we do it right,” Fox said.
“Second chances are expensive. We have to get this right the first time,” Mizeur said.
An executive order issued by Gov. Martin O’Malley has established a temporary moratorium on fracking.
A law would keep it enforced until the practice is found to be safe.