The de facto moratorium on fracking in Maryland seems likely to continue into 2014.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has included $1.5 million in his budget proposal for the next fiscal year for a study of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.
But even if the legislature approves the funding, it appears unlikely that the study would produce conclusive results this year. And a spokesperson for O’Malley said that he isn’t planning to propose any other legislation on fracking this legislative session.
At a hearing Thursday at the House of Delegates’ Environmental Matters Committee, state Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers said that while “it’s not theoretically impossible” that the study would produce conclusive findings by an August 2014 deadline, it might lead only to more studies.
“In the course of the study we may discover more that we need to look at,” he said.
Starting in 2009, four companies filed for permits to frack in Western Maryland, a process which uses high water pressure to split gas-bearing Marcellus shale rock deep below the earth’s surface. All four companies have since withdrawn their requests.