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Maryland State Government Maryland Department of the Environment

Marcellus Shale

The Marcellus Shale is a black shale, or rock formation, found throughout the northern Appalachian Basin. In Maryland, the Marcellus Shale formation is located within western Maryland from Washington, Allegany and Garrett Counties. The only anticipated areas of gas production in the Marcellus are Western Allegany and Garrett Counties. The Marcellus Formation underlies New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Western Maryland. In 2009, the Department of Energy estimated 262 trillion cubic feet of natural gas exists in the Marcellus Shale, making it the largest onshore Natural Gas Reserve in the United States.


Marcellus Shale Public Meetings & Issue Papers New

Maryland Department of the Environment (“the Department”) will be holding three public meetings to discuss the development of new regulations for oil and gas exploration and production. The Department is required by State law to adopt new regulations to provide for the hydraulic fracturing of a well for the exploration or production of natural gas by October 1, 2016.

The public meetings are scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, June 22, 6-8 pm @ Allegany College, Continuing Education Building, 12401 Willowbrook Road, SE, Room CE 12-14, Cumberland, MD 21502


  • Monday, June 27, 6-8 pm @ MDE Headquarters, Montgomery Park, 1800 Washington Blvd, first floor conference rooms, Baltimore, MD 21230


  • Wednesday, June 29, 6-8 pm @ Garrett College, 687 Mosser Road, Auditorium (Room 715), McHenry, MD 21541



The Department had proposed regulations for oil and gas exploration and production on January 9, 2015. Since the close of the comment period on the 2015 proposal, the Department has been reviewing the 2015 proposal to ensure that it protects public health, safety, the environment, and natural resources while avoiding unnecessary barriers to responsible development of the State’s natural gas resources.

The Department has developed several “issue papers” that discuss specific topics that generated extensive interest when the Department proposed regulations in January 2015. The issue papers describe the Department’s current thinking with respect to key issues from the 2015 proposal. Each issue paper includes an overview of the requirements included in the 2015 proposal and the Department’s tentative suggestions for revising those requirements.


The three public meetings will provide an opportunity for the public to provide comments on the issue papers. Additionally, comments may be submitted via email or paper mail. Written comments will be accepted through July 18, 2016 by e-mail at or by mail at:

  • Attn: LMA Director’s Office
    Maryland Department of the Environment
    1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 610
    Baltimore, MD 21230

Based on continuing review and evaluation of the comments received on the issue papers, the Department will propose a revised set of regulations in the Maryland Register in advance of the October 1, 2016 promulgation deadline. Following proposal, the Department will provide an additional 30-day written comment period before taking any final action on the regulations.


Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative

Proposed Regulations: Oil and Gas Exploration and Production

Oil and gas exploration and production regulations were published in the January 9, 2015 edition of the Maryland Register.  The 30-day comment period closed on February 9, 2015.  The Maryland Department of the Environment is currently reviewing the comments received.  Any questions should be directed to Jeffrey Fretwell, Legislative Assistant, Maryland Department of the Environment, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 212340-1720, or call 410-537-3537 or email to




On June 6, 2011, former Governor Martin O’Malley signed an Executive Order establishing the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative. This initiative will assist State policymakers and regulators in determining whether and how gas production from the Marcellus shale in Maryland can be accomplished without unacceptable risks of adverse impacts to public health, safety, the environment and natural resources. The Order requires the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in consultation with an advisory commission made up of a broad array of stakeholders, to undertake a study of drilling for natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in Western Maryland.

Under the Executive Order, the study will be conducted in three parts: 

  • A presentation of findings and related recommendations regarding the desirability of legislation to establish revenue sources, such as a State-level severance tax, and the desirability of legislation to establish standards of liability for damages caused by gas exploration and production.  These findings and recommendations were issued December 31, 2011.
  • Recommendations for best practices for all aspects of natural gas exploration and production in the Marcellus Shale in Maryland were released as an interim final report on July 11, 2014.
  • A final report which will include findings and recommendations relating to the impact of Marcellus Shale drilling including possible contamination of groundwater, handling and disposal of wastewater, environmental impacts, impacts to forests and important habitats, greenhouse gas emissions and economic impact.  This report is due no later than August 1, 2014, but will be delayed. A draft report will be issued in the Fall and a final report is expected by the end of the 2014.


Contact Information

Any questions should be directed to Jeffrey Fretwell – or 410-537-3537.