Maryland Department of Environment invites comments on the "Issue Paper" that outlines recommendations for fracking regualtions. The Paper was release last month and can be found here: http://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Land/mining/marcellus/Documents/Issue_Papers_Combined.pdf
Written comments will be accepted through July 18, 2016 by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org by mail at:
- Attn: LMA Director’s Office
Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 610
Baltimore, MD 21230
Based on continuing review and evaluation of the comments received on the issue papers, the Department will propose a revised set of regulations in the Maryland Register in advance of the October 1, 2016 promulgation deadline. Following proposal, the Department will provide an additional 30-day written comment period before taking any final action on the regulations.
Citizen Shale submitted the folowing statement:
To: Sec. Benjamin Grumbles, Maryland Department of Environment
From: Citizen Shale, Friendsville, MD
Citizen Shale, the community organization involved since 2011 in the shale gas development question in western Maryland, expresses our unequivocal opposition to your department’s attempts to regulate fracking with the rules presented recently in public hearings around Maryland.
We find the regulations will not ensure safety for those living in the path of development or for the environment. Given your department’s decision to so greatly relax and weaken many key provisions proposed by the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley, we see no alternative but to take our concerns to the legislature.
We call upon the General Assembly to ban fracking in Maryland.
Let us specifically address three areas in the draft regulations: setbacks from private residential water sources; multiple casing strings; and comprehensive development plans. First, however, please note such comments should not be construed to mean that “fixing” the problems cited may be sufficient for us to reverse our position regarding the need for a ban. Broadly, we feel the proposed rules are so flawed that no amount of “tweaking” can ensure “safe and responsible drilling,” as you, Gov. Hogan, and western Maryland's legislative delegation have promised. Further, we see no credible evidence — anywhere in the world — that fracking can be regulated without tremendous risk of harm for some people in the area of development, for our region’s economy, and for the environment.
Regarding the recommended setback from private water sources (affecting an estimated 14,400 households): the department should be embarrassed to suggest that 1,000 feet — the same as currently required, back to 1993, before horizontal drilling or fracking — is sufficient. The scale and impact of drilling and gas infrastructure in 2016 is many times more invasive than in the “vertical drilling” era.
We are well aware of the arguments for the 2,000-foot setback proposed proposed by the O'Malley administration (though the only peer-reviewed research on the subject recommended a 1 kilometer setback). Since that commission disbanded in late 2014, has new peer-reviewed research emerged? We are not aware of it, despite assurances from MDE’s Jeffrey Fretwell that a response to this concern—raised three times publicly by board president Paul Roberts—is forthcoming. To date, no follow-up has been received.
On this issue in particular, the department makes a mockery of the scientific process that it claims to follow.
Similarly, MDE representatives at public meetings claimed that the “extra casing string” proposed will, somehow, make up for reducing the setback by 1,000 feet. Where is that scientific evidence?
While the department may be willing to experiment on Marylanders with engineering concepts, speculation by engineers and administrators is not science. And, we believe the agency knows the difference even as, you, Mr. Secretary, continue to make erroneous claims that key elements of the proposed regulations are “guided by the science.”
We object, strenuously. This cynical and cavalier approach to shale gas regulations undermines public confidence in government generally and in your ability specifically to regulate the industry, should Maryland ever be so unfortunate that fracking is allowed under the proposed regulatory scheme.
You also assert that comprehensive development plans are likely to reduce impacts on public health and the environment. Again, we have asked for the peer-reviewed research about this strategy. Again, nothing is forthcoming from MDE.
Finally, further buttressing our position, the chief architect of the "O’Malley regulations” (former MDE administrator Brigid Kenney, now retired), stated at the June 29 public hearing in Garrett County that she, too, finds your proposals lacking and “insufficient to assure” the public that fracking can be done with acceptable risks.
If fracking occurs in our state — using these regulations, “enforced" by this agency — western Maryland’s tourism economy will be undermined. Moreover, we believe many nightmarish stories of harm to humans and the environment — equal to those seen in Pennsylvania, which MDE has cited as a model for these regulations — are inevitable.
For this reason, for others outlined above, and for literally dozens cited in the public record of dialogue on fracking over the last seven years (excessive truck traffic; dangerous levels of toxic air emissions produced by that traffic and by the drilling process; significant risks for local first-responder and emergency medical services — examples all scantily addressed by these regulations), we see no credible evidence that the department is capable of regulating shale gas development.
We respectfully submit these comments, and call upon the General Assembly to ban fracking in Maryland.