Use of hydrofracking to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in the Allegheny mountains of VA - WV - MD - PA - NY has become a major issue the past couple years. The Maryland Chapter is working on a campaign to put a moratorium on drilling until stricter regulations and permitting conditions are met (including understanding of cumulative impacts) and until there is adequate capacity to monitor and enforce regulations.
What is Hydraulic fracturing?
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected under high pressure into each well, usually several times. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.For each frack, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. The voluntary disclosure of the chemicals used is inadequate as a regulatory enforcement tool, since the chemicals used vary among each well site.
In addition to the actual hydraulic fracturing process which has received significant attention, there are many other risks and impacts related to the drilling, transportation of water and fluids, and construction and operation of the associated gas infrastructure.
As we move to a clean energy future, Sierra Club is generally not opposed to continued production from existing gas fields, but drilling must be subject to much stronger national and state standards that protect the environment, human health, safety and communities.
The Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Act of 2011 (HB852/SB634) Passed!
Delegates Heather Mizeur and Marvin Holmes and Senator Brian Frosh introduced the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Act of 2011 (HB852/SB634), to develop a process to increase regulation of gas drilling in Maryland.
The bill requires the Maryland Department of the Environment to conduct a study to assess impacts of drilling on the environment and local communities before drilling permits are issued. Because of the complexity of this issue and the lack of information specific to Maryland, and the limited resources available at MDE to conduct the study, process permits, monitor the drilling and enforce regulations, we are thrilled that HB 852/SB 634 passed.
Under this new law, each drilling company permit application must include:
A plan to minimize and offset the impacts of drilling to wetlands, forests and other critical habitat
Safeguards so the drilling will not impair the sustainability, water quality of ground and surface water in the watershed
Use of fracking fluids containing only proppants and additives that have been approved by the department
The plans for treatment and disposal of flow back and other wastewater and wastes at regulated facilities
Information about the water supply used for drilling and hydraulic fracturing
A monitoring program approved by the Department to establish a baseline water quality for ground and surface water prior to the drilling
A plan for periodic testing to determine if the drilling or fracking has affected the ground and surface water
A plan for emergency response for the proposed site has been developed
Documentation of environmental impairment liability insurance
Check our photos from the Stop the Frack Attack Rally on Saturday July 28!
watch Sierra Club's Michael Brune on 60 Minutes
watch a CNN report on hydrofracking and toxic water.
Stop the opening of 60 million acres of wilderness for development.
Host a showing of Gasland, a documentary about hydrofracking.
Tell Obama: Say No to LNG Exports!