EARTHblog » Aaron Mintzes
March 2, 2012
The stage is thus set for how Maryland will respond to the political winds of the shale gale. According to a new study sponsored by Maryland’s chapter of the American Petroleum Institute (API), Maryland could drill several hundred wells, mostly in Garrett County right next to West Virginia and Pennsylvania. At a recent API conference in Annapolis, experts estimated Maryland’s drilling capacity somewhere between 1600 and 2000 wells. While this seems like a relatively small number, two points bear impressing. First, almost all of those wells will be in just one or two counties. So, they’d still be sited pretty close together.
Second, and almost more importantly, is the opportunity for Maryland to shape the rules of the road for the fracking industry. In light of the President’s State of the Union embrace of natural gas, and Pennsylvania’s cart blanche acquiescence to the drilling industry wish list, Maryland must set a proper example for the entire Marcellus play. In fact, the Mason-Dixon line must become a firewall separating the right way to harness our energy resources from the example set by irresponsible oil and gas development elsewhere.
February 17, 2012
Yesterday I attended a public comment hearing before the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC). The SRBC is an interstate agency responsible for making important water resource decisions affecting the Susquehanna River basin. Comprised of appointees from Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and the Army Corps of Engineers, the SRBC met to receive comments on a series of proposed permit applications for water withdrawals intended for use in hydraulic fracturing operations.
This was a do-over meeting. The first one, held December 15 in Wilkes-Barre, abruptly and improperly ended when a number of protesters shouted down the Commissioners as they moved for unilateral approval of all the permit applications without allowing for public comment. The protests clearly rattled the SRBC commissioners. Not used to such public outrage, the SRBC was left with no ability to neither conduct their business nor provide an opportunity for other advocates to speak.