If approved, Maryland's proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations will be the most rigorous in the United States. Yet, as written, the proposed regulations are so restrictive they could significantly limit Western Maryland's opportunity for economic gains and job creation — without appreciably making an already safe process any safer ("State introduces fracking regulations, one year before ban's end," Sept. 27).
Proposed regulations like setback requirements that go farther than other states with prominent production, excessive requirements for additional layers of casing and well construction and restrictions placing watersheds in Western Maryland completely off limits could stifle jobs and restrict economic opportunities for local communities.
The oil and natural gas industry has proven its ability, through the development of millions of wells during the technology's 65-year history, to protect public health and meet strict environmental goals without overly restrictive regulations like these. A five-year, multi-million dollar U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study released last year found that fracking has not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water. Additionally, the University of Cincinnati recently completed a three-year study in which researchers examined water samples three to four times per year from 23 wells in the Utica shale region, finding no evidence linking fracking to groundwater contamination.
Thanks to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the U.S. leads the world not only in production of oil and natural gas but in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions like carbon which are near 20-year lows due to availability of clean-burning natural gas.
Practical and reasonable policies can attract new investment to Western Maryland where they are greatly needed. But, as we finalize hydraulic fracturing regulations, let's make sure we're not taking one step forward and two steps back.
Drew Cobbs, Annapolis
The writer is executive director of the Maryland Petroleum Council.