WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government is awarding funds to help a western Maryland county study the potential economic impact of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski announced the $37,500 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission on Friday.  It must be matched with an equal amount of local funding

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The project would explore potential impacts on tourism, property values and outdoor recreation if the state allows fracking in western Maryland.

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Fracking permits cannot be granted in Maryland until October 2017 under a law passed by this year’s General Assembly.

The Garrett County Commissioners said in April they want an objective study of the potential economic impact amid concern from businesses in the Deep Creek Lake resort area that depend largely on tourism and second-home buyers.

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