Maryland Departments of Environment and Natural Resources
[Baltimore Sun] Capping more than three years of study, the O’Malley administration declared Tuesday that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas can be done safely in Western Maryland, but only after regulations are tightened to reduce air and water pollution and protect residents from well contamination, noise and other disruptions associated with an anticipated drilling boom.
The state Departments of Environment and Natural Resources released a draft final report proposing new rules for “fracking,” as the drilling technique is often called, and recommending legislation to stiffen penalties for spills and to levy a tax on any gas extracted to address impacts on affected communities.
Gov. Martin O’Malley, who had effectively blocked fracking in Western Maryland by ordering a study of its impacts, said in a statement that the report sets a “gold standard” for balancing the risks and rewards of the controversial drilling technique. Fracking has reaped a gas bonanza nationwide but also stirred controversy over pollution and health issues.
With only weeks to go in his term, the Democratic governor made clear he intends to propose the most stringent fracking safeguards in the nation, putting his Republican successor on the spot over whether to follow through…