BALTIMORE, MD (May 11, 2011) – Today Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology about Maryland’s experience and concerns with hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. Previously, Secretary Summers testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the same topic. The following are excerpts from Secretary Summers’ prepared testimony (read the prepared testimony in full here):
“We are mindful of the tremendous benefits that could accrue to the environment and the economy by exploring and exploiting our gas reserves, but we are equally alert to the risks of adverse public health and environmental effects. Our paramount concern is protecting our ground and surface waters.
“There are numerous issues that must be addressed before Maryland can conclude whether and how drilling in the Marcellus Shale can be done safely…. Additional research and study is needed in each of these areas in order to be fully protective of public health and safety and the environment.
“We commend Congress for directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct research to examine the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources. EPA’s Office of Research and Development has developed a solid, comprehensive plan for this study; however, we note that some important issues are beyond the scope of the study, including re-fracturing, and impacts to air quality and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. These issues also need to be studied.
“While the states should retain the authority to enact more stringent requirements, a federal regulatory ‘floor’ would ensure at least basic protection of the environment and public health. Federal regulation is particularly important given the interstate nature of surface and ground waters and the fact that states do not have jurisdiction over out-of-state drilling and fracking activities, even when those activities could have significant impacts on water quality in neighboring states. Interstate waters such as the Susquehanna and Potomac Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay are critical resources to all of the jurisdictions in the region.”