CUMBERLAND — A bill that would impose strict liability on gas drillers for injuries and property damage is advancing in the General Assembly.
On a 7-4 vote, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee sent the bill to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation.
The standards that Senate Bill 458 would impose would be so stringent that they would have the same effect as imposing a moratorium, according to Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine and Del. Wendell Beitzel.
In the region, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and other states allow hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, while New York has banned the practice.
State officials recently released the final version of the “Assessment of Risks from Unconventional Gas Well Development in the Marcellus Shale of Western Maryland,” co-authored by Maryland Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources. The document is available on the MDE website.
Marcellus shale formations throughout the eastern U.S. harbor large natural gas reserves.
The shale is a sedimentary rock formation that extends underground through about 95,000 square miles in the region.
In Maryland, the shale formations are found only in Allegany and Garrett counties, with the bulk of the formations in Garrett County.
Maryland has less than 2 percent of the available reserves of natural gas in Marcellus shale throughout the nation.
The committee vote took place Wednesday.