Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Usual Crowd Still Fighting Fracking in Maryland

The debate over “fracking” has begun anew in Maryland.
State regulators recently announced they were beginning to draft new regulations for extracting natural gas using hydraulic fracturing, which they plan to release this summer. That triggered an outcry, signaling a likely showdown early next year over whether to lift Maryland’s moratorium on the controversial drilling process or impose a permanent ban.

Ben Grumbles, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, told the crowd at a public meeting Monday night in Baltimore that his staff is “striving for reasonable and balanced approaches” to regulating natural gas extraction. But the overwhelming reaction from the crowd of more than 120 people present at MDE headquarters was not to bother — they don’t believe fracking can be done safely, and they don’t want it in the state, period.
. . .
Grumbles explained that MDE intends to stick largely with drilling rules proposed last year by former Gov. Martin O’Malley. O’Malley had touted his plan, produced after a five-year hold on fracking to study the issue, as the most stringent in the nation and a “gold standard” for ensuring it could be done safely.

But state lawmakers responded by imposing a moratorium on any drilling until October 2017, to give them a chance to review any regulations before they could take effect.

The MDE secretary said his staff is weighing making the previously proposed rules stricter in a couple instances, while easing several others. The goal, as a PowerPoint presentation put it, would be “protection of public health, safety and natural resources and allow for responsible development of the State’s natural gas resources.”
Of course, EPA, no friend of fracking has all but entirely cleared fracking of the most often cited excuse for banning it, pollution of drinking water aquifers. As with any industrial process, there are environmental concerns that need to be addressed with a reasonable look at costs versus effects, but these people aren't interested in the actual environment, only feeling better about about themselves.

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