Maryland won’t meet its self-imposed goal of creating hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, regulations by the start of October, according to state officials.
Business leaders believe that delay is a good thing since the state currently has a total ban on fracking until late 2017. Environmentalists, on the other hand, are worried the delay means the officials won’t regulate fracking as strictly as possible. Officials will announce new regulations sometime later this fall.
“If they don’t have enough capacity to write the regulations, how can we believe they’ll have enough capacity to effectively implement all the safeguards?” Josh Tulkin, director of the Maryland Chapter of The Sierra Club, told The Baltimore Sun.
State officials with the Maryland Department of the Environment said fracking regulations won’t be ready by October, but officials said fracking regulations will likely be released later this fall.
Both environmentalists and the energy industry disliked Maryland’s previous regulations. Environmentalists claim the regulations would lead to earthquakes and groundwater contamination, despite being drafted by Democratic presidential candidate former Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan supports fracking because of the new jobs and wealth into the state. Several counties in western Maryland are on top of the Marcellus shale formation, which is the largest reserve of natural gas in the U.S. Even modest landowners on the shale formation can make up to $35,000 a month in royalties payments.
O’Malley and the state’s Democratic-led General Assembly imposed a moratorium on fracking in 2011, citing alleged risks of groundwater contamination and increased earthquake activity.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) science advisers recently stated that fracking has no “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water in the United States.” The EPA’s assessment of fracking’s risk to groundwater concurs with numerous scientific studies from regulatory bodies, academics, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the National Science Foundation.
Reports from the National Research Council, the USGS and numerous university studies all conclude that fracking is not causing earthquakes.
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