As we have discussed in prior posts, Maryland has in place a de facto moratorium on shale exploration and drilling. Responding to inquiries about drilling into Marcellus shale formations in western Maryland, in 2011 Governor Martin O’Malley issued an executive order directing state agencies to conduct a comprehensive study of hydraulic fracturing’s short-term, long-term, and cumulative impacts. That study is ongoing and not scheduled to be completed until 2014. Maryland’s Department of the Environment then decided not to issue any drilling permits until the study is complete.
Last week, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley released his proposed fiscal year 2014 budget. Notably, the budget includes $1.5 million dedicated ”to provide citizens, business leaders and policymakers the research and data they need to fully consider the potential economic and ecological impacts of natural gas extraction in Maryland.” $1 million of these funds are proposed to go towards the ongoing hydraulic fracturing study, with the remaining amount for gathering baseline environmental data in areas of the state located in the Marcellus shale region.