Maryland Bans Fracking for at Least Two Years
On May 30, 2015, the Maryland General Assembly instated a moratorium that will prevent the issuance of permits to hydraulically fracture natural gas wells for at least two years. House Bill 449 will take effect on October 1, 2015 and prohibits the Maryland Department of the Environment ("MDE") from issuing any drilling permits for hydraulic fracturing before October 1, 2017. The bill also directs the MDE to promulgate permitting regulations specific to hydraulic fracturing activities by October 1, 2016, with those regulations becoming effective one year later.
Hydraulic fracturing has been under a de facto moratorium in Maryland since June 2011, when former Governor Martin O'Malley issued an Executive Order directing the MDE and the Department of Natural Resources to study economic, environmental, and public health issues related to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. After reviewing several thousand public comments, the departments released their final study on November 25, 2014, which concluded that any environmental or health risks from hydraulic fracturing could be adequately managed through a regulatory regime based on best practices and recommendations identified in their report. On January 9, 2015, the MDE proposed stringent
that would require an application for a permit to drill a well to include an Environmental Assessment and two years of baseline monitoring in the vicinity of the well pad, chemical disclosure, and drilling setbacks, among other things.
There has been no hydraulic fracturing in Maryland in recent years, even though two counties in the state's panhandle region overlie the rich Marcellus Shale formation. You can read the text of House Bill 449