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Daily Record 07212013 Report Fracking a Win-Win

Daily Record 07212013 Report Fracking a Win-Win

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Published by JohnHQuigley
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Daily Record article (subscription required)

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Categories:Business/Law
Published by: JohnHQuigley on Jul 23, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/06/2013

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Report: Fracking a win-winPosted: 3:00 pm Sun, July 21, 2013By Alexander Pyles <mailto:alexander.pyles@thedailyrecord.com>Daily Record Business Writer  An environmental advocacy group is crying foul over a report commissioned bythe Maryland Department of Natural Resources that it says shows the state is
readying regulations to allow hydraulic fracturing. State officials say there’s
nothing to see here.The 27-page report, written by a former top official in Pennsylvania who oversawhydraulic fracturing as secretary of the Department of Conservation and NaturalResources, touts the use of comprehensive gas development plans in Maryland.Such a plan would prevent companies from receiving a drilling permit until theydetailed how much land they would disturb.Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch interpreted the report as the startof policy formation in Maryland. But a DNR researcher said Friday that the
organization misinterpreted the “white paper.”
 John H. Quigley, the former Pennsylvania official, has spent the past two years
as a state consultant while a commission formed by Gov. Martin O’Malley has
studied the safety and best practices of the controversial natural gas drillingtechnique known by most as fracking.
“I’m not sure why there was a reaction from Food & Water Watch,” said ChristineConn, unit director of DNR’s Integrated Policy and Review Unit. “It is an advisory
paper. It in no way should be interpreted as commissioning Mr. Quigley to draft
regulations for us. We consider it a progressive piece of research.”
 Energy companies seeking to drill began leasing land from farmers in WesternMaryland at least as early as 2006. About a mile below much of Garrett Countyand part of Allegany County lies a gas-encased rock formation called MarcellusShale. The gas is extracted through a process that includes blasting a water andchemical mixture into the rock, fracturing it and allowing gas to seep out.No company ever received permission to drill, and a 2011 executive order issued
by O’Malley all but demanded no permit be issued until fracking’s safety was
studied and regulations were drafted. His order created the Marcellus Shale SafeDrilling Initiative Advisory Commission, which has since studied fracking inconjunction with DNR and the Maryland Department of the Environment.
O’Malley had directed the commission to report its findings by August 2014.
 Quigley is expected to present his report to the commission on Monday. In it, he
 
concludes that “Maryland has the opportunity to take a national leadership
position in demonstrating how smart planning can achieve environmental and
business ‘win
-
wins.’”
 Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Wa
ter Watch, said Quigley’s
report amounted to the start of regulation setting in Maryland.The fracking commission released a report on best practices in May, which alsocalled for the submission of five-year plans before natural gas companies couldreceive a permit. Maryland would become the only state to demand such a plan.That report is open to public comment through mid-August. Some in theenvironmental community have questioned in recent weeks how the commissioncould recommend best practices without first completing a safety study.
“The commissioning of this report contradicts Gov. O’Malley’s public insistencethat he will not pursue fracking until it is declared safe,” Hauter said. “He’s saidthat Maryland won’t turn into another Pennsylvania. But
then why is he hiring theofficial that brought fracking there to smooth over the challenges to forming
regulations to open Maryland to fracking?”
 
Takirra Winfield, a spokeswoman for O’Malley, called Food & Water Watch’saccusations “bogus.”
 
“They completely ignored the MDE and DNR … they never bothered to contactthem to get our side in it,” Winfield said. “It’s inaccurate. … No decision has beenmade on whether to allow fracking in Maryland.”
 
She also said O’Malley had no direct role in soliciting Quigley’s opinion. Quigleytestified before the House of Delegates’ Environmental Matters Committee this
year on the issue of drilling plans, officials said, and members of the committeeand the fracking commission requested he present a formal report.
“It’s not like this guy is on the governor’s quick dial list,” Winfield said.
 
Conn, the DNR researcher, stressed that Quigley’s report was intended to be a
complementary resource for the commission and state agencies as they consider whether to issue drilling permits.
“It provides additional information for the commission, the agencies and the
public to better understand how a comprehensive drilling plan could be used topreserve the protection of our resources, should we go forth with hydraulic
fracturing,” Conn said. “We’ve indicated we would like to see this as a mandatory
requirement before any company submits a permit. We would like to see the
entirety of their operation and what they plan to do.”
 

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