The Rural Blog: Restrictions on gas drilling advance in Md., Tex.

March 29, 2011 | General RCAP News

Original posting for this blog entry, posted March 28, 2011

Two states are moving toward more restraints on natural-gas drilling in the wake of concerns over possible water pollution from hydraulic fracturing operations. The Maryland House of Delegates "on Wednesday passed a bill that would essentially place a moratorium on drilling until the Maryland Department of the Environment completes a two-year study to determine whether it endangers drinking water and public health, as some environmentalists in nearby states that allow drilling charge," Darryl Fears of The Washington Post reports. A companion bill in the state Senate is expected to face a tougher road as gas industry lobbyists work against it.

"We’re not going to be like other states that drilled first and asked questions later," Democratic Delegare Heather R. Mizeur, sponsor of the legislation, told the Post. "We understand that second chances are expensive, so we should slow down and take the time to do this right the first time."

Fears notes that U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said earlier this month he was considering federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing. "We are going to have a huge backlash . . . from the American public if we continue to inject chemicals and fluids into the ground without people knowing what it is that’s being injected," he told the House Natural Resources Committee.

Texas, the nation’s leading gas-drilling state, may require companies to disclose drilling fluids. A bill, which has won praise from industry and environmental groups, "would create a website containing information about the chemicals used in each well," Kate Galbraith of The Texas Tribune reports. David Blackmon, the Texas state committee chairman for America’s Natural Gas Alliance, said with a few changes the bill could be a good way to address what the industry considers are misplaced concerns about hydraulic fracturing.