Return to main blog

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fracking in Maryland: Chesapeake Bay Foundation Petitions White House

Fracking, shale gas drilling, is hot and controversial green energy topic in Maryland. From Hagerstown on West, Maryland sits atop the Saudi Arabia of natural gas reserves known as the Marcellus Shale. Embedded in the shale is a projected 50 to 100 years of natural gas; right here in the U.S.

Natural gas is being touted as a possible green energy savior and given Japan’s recent nuclear woes and rising gas prices, $3.68 per gallon in Baltimore on April 5, 2011, natural gas’ role in our energy policy is hotter than ever.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. shale natural gas supply has grown from 1 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 10 short years. There’s a game-changing natural gas boon happening right under our feet.

So, first the good news: Natural gas emits half the emissions of oil and coal. It’s an American resource. We can get to it. The drilling boom is bringing lots of cash to rural landowners and tax coffers. And, fracking brings jobs.

Now the bad news: Fracking is the only U.S. industry that isn’t regulated. Fracking uses highly toxic chemicals. Fracking drills through water tables and aquifers and is being blamed for thousands of water and health issues.

A quick primer on getting to the gas. Oil and gas firms drill down miles and fracture the shale by pumping millions of gallons of water laced with sand and chemicals which then releases the gas bubbles from the rock. The natural gas is pumped up to storage tanks. The chemical water,or fracking solution, is also pumped to the top, stored in open and lined pits and trucked to local water municipal facilities for disposal.

What some see as an home-grown and clean answer to energy dependence, others view as a water-polluting drilling method that hurts the land, water, people and animals and could possibly harm the Chesapeake Bay.Read More