Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative
Proposed Regulations: Oil and Gas Exploration and Production
Oil and gas exploration and production regulations were published in the January 9, 2015 edition of the Maryland Register. The 30-day comment period closed on February 9, 2015. The Maryland Department of the Environment is currently reviewing the comments received. Any questions should be directed to Jeffrey Fretwell, Legislative Assistant, Maryland Department of the Environment, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 212340-1720, or call 410-537-3537 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Marcellus Shale is a black shale, or rock formation, found throughout the northern Appalachian Basin. In Maryland, the Marcellus Shale formation is located within western Maryland from Washington, Allegany and Garrett Counties. The only anticipated areas of gas production in the Marcellus are Western Allegany and Garrett Counties. The Marcellus Formation underlies New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Western Maryland. In 2009, the Department of Energy estimated 262 trillion cubic feet of natural gas exists in the Marcellus Shale, making it the largest onshore Natural Gas Reserve in the United States.
On June 6, 2011, former Governor Martin O’Malley signed an Executive Order establishing the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative. This initiative will assist State policymakers and regulators in determining whether and how gas production from the Marcellus shale in Maryland can be accomplished without unacceptable risks of adverse impacts to public health, safety, the environment and natural resources. The Order requires the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in consultation with an advisory commission made up of a broad array of stakeholders, to undertake a study of drilling for natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in Western Maryland.
Under the Executive Order, the study will be conducted in three parts:
- A presentation of findings and related recommendations regarding the desirability of legislation to establish revenue sources, such as a State-level severance tax, and the desirability of legislation to establish standards of liability for damages caused by gas exploration and production. These findings and recommendations were issued December 31, 2011.
- Recommendations for best practices for all aspects of natural gas exploration and production in the Marcellus Shale in Maryland were released as an interim final report on July 11, 2014.
- A final report which will include findings and recommendations relating to the impact of Marcellus Shale drilling including possible contamination of groundwater, handling and disposal of wastewater, environmental impacts, impacts to forests and important habitats, greenhouse gas emissions and economic impact. This report is due no later than August 1, 2014, but will be delayed. A draft report will be issued in the Fall and a final report is expected by the end of the 2014.