About Us


Through research, policy review, and education, Citizen Shale will encourage dialogue and support comprehensive efforts to protect individuals and communities from the wide-ranging impacts of shale gas development.


To review and support national, state, and local policies that guarantee strong, enforceable regulations, and that recognize Constitutional rights to health, safety, and property.  Citizen Shale will work closely with policy-makers to achieve fair policy and responsible corporate practice from land leasing to gas production.

To educate and inform citizens in Maryland and the region, through fact-based materials and public programs, and on our website, about the rights and responsibilities of individuals and industry in shale gas development.  By collecting and synthesizing independent scientific research, citizens’ experiences, media reports, economic data, and legal records and other public documents, Citizen Shale will offer a clearinghouse of accurate information for the community.

To provide tools and create opportunities for individuals and communities to engage in political, regulatory, monitoring, and assessment processes associated with shale gas production.  By partnering with government, businesses, foundations and community groups Citizen Shale will develop mechanisms for citizen input and local control.


Maryland is one state in the Marcellus that has not begun shale gas drilling and development.  With little more than 150,000 mostly rural acres over the shale, Maryland has not seen a rush to drill.  Responding to concerns raised by citizens, businesses, organizations and leaders throughout the state, Maryland’s Governor has ordered more scientific study by the State Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, to better understand the resources that lie beneath our homes and to determine if shale gas development can be done safely.  This study will also ensure that Maryland will be a model for best industrial practices and set the gold standard in regulations, should drilling occur here.

CitizenShale was formed by a group of concerned citizens, landowners, and business people from western Maryland.  After being approached by landmen and then researching impacts of the new extraction technologies in nearby Pennsylvania, citizens from western Maryland approached agencies, legislators, and the Governor with concerns over corporate practices, leasing practices, and best management (technology) practices.  CitizenShale has encouraged legislation that would require studies of direct and indirect impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing and infrastructure development associated with shale gas extraction before permitting is allowed by the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE).  Although that legislation initially failed, the result was en executive order by Maryland's Governor O'Malley that formed a commission to study the impacts of natural gas development and the actions that might be required by the legislature and the agencies involved in permitting.

CitizenShale volunteers have since researched many aspects of gas development and provides this website as a tool for Marylanders who want information and background helpful to understand the new form of gas development, and to participate in their communities and in Annapolis during legislative sessions.


What is Marcellus Shale?

The Marcellus shale is a fine-grained layer of sedimentary rock, deposited 350 million years ago, that contains natural gas.  Although it sometimes crops out on the surface, the average depth is 4,000-8,500 feet and ranges in thickness from 50-200 feet.  For more information visit: www.naturalgas.org

What is Hydraulic Fracturing?

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is the process of injecting millions of gallons of water, chemicals, and manufactured sand into the ground to fracture the shale and release the gas.  For more information visit: www.mgs.md.gov

What Makes Shale Gas different from Conventional Gas?

Conventional gas is most often released through conventional drilling from a shallow pocket.  Shale gas development requires special technologies not used in conventional gas development to make gas extraction cost effective: Directional drilling to access the shale deposits, and High Volume Slick Water Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking) to control the volume and power of the fracturing and to release the gas embedded in the shale layer. The Marcellus Shale (under western Maryland) must be fractured using a chemical-laden slick water in order for gas to be released.  In the Marcellus, drilling is both vertical to reach the depth of the shale and horizontal to break up more of the shale layer.  For more information visit: www.healthandenvironment.org

For the US Energy Information Agency's webpage on Shale development click.

For a clear synopsis of the above, visit the GlobalCountryside website of Dr Simona Perry here

Where is the Marcellus Shale in Maryland?

The Marcellus shale is located in Garrett and Allegany Counties in western Maryland. MDE has estimated that as many as 1,600 wells could be drilled in 128,000 acres in Garrett County and another 637 wells in 51,000 drillable acres in Allegany County.  For more information visit: MDE's Safe Drilling Initiative Fact Page

For a map of Marcellus Shale in Maryland click.


Over the past two years, citizens working with CitizenShale have compiled research on the known and potential impacts of shale gas development on Maryland's communities.  The known impacts have added up to significant costs to communities.  The known and potential impacts have been the basis for legislative actions calling for studies and for new regulations that would address differences between conventional gas drilling and the newer technologies of hydraulic fracturing.

Following 5 years of reseach that has shown that no regulations can keep communities or workers safe, Citizen Shale is now working along side a statewide coalition of health, environmental, faith, and community groups towards a legislated ban on fracking in Maryland.

Resources on specific topics may be found by category in the CitizenShale archives.  See right sidebar for a list of content areas.