Maryland unveiled what may be country’s strictest regulations on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” yet.
In Maryland, State Department of the Environment introduced new rules which would prevent fracking within 1,000 feet of a private drinking water well, require four layers of steel casings and cement around wells, and force energy companies to replace any contaminated water.
These rules “will be the most stringent and protective environmental shale regulations in the country,” Ben Grumbles, Maryland’s Environmental Secretary, said in a statement Tuesday. “If fracking ever comes to western Maryland, these rigorous regulations will be in place beforehand to help ensure safe and responsible energy development.”
State officials said they expect fracking regulations to be formally proposed in mid-November with a 30-day public comment period. State lawmakers have until the end of the year to formally adopt the regulations.
Maryland currently has a total ban on fracking which lasts through late 2017, and environmentalists are worried state officials won’t regulate fracking as strictly as possible.
“If they don’t have enough capacity to write the regulations, how can we believe they’ll have enough capacity to effectively implement all the safeguards?” Josh Tulkin, director of the Maryland Chapter of The Sierra Club, told The Baltimore Sun.