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.

Proposed Regulations: Oil and Gas Exploration and Production

Oil and gas exploration and production regulations were published in the November 14, 2016, edition of the Maryland Register. The purpose of the action is to update the regulations governing the exploration and production of oil and gas to address technologies that were not typically employed in Maryland when the existing regulations were adopted, including hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. The proposed regulations will ensure that any exploration and production of oil and gas is conducted in a manner protective of public health, safety, the environment, and natural resources.

This regulatory proposal was open for public comment for 30 days. The public comment period closed on December 14, 2016. The Department is reviewing the comments that were received during the comment period. The General Assembly’s AELR Committee sent the Department a letter on December 29, 2016 asking the Department to delay the final adoption of the regulations so that the Committee could conduct a more detailed study of the regulations. The Department will continue to work with the AELR Committee to provide the information they are requesting and we will evaluate any input they provide.

Underground injection control regulations were published in the November 28, 2016, edition of the Maryland Register. The purpose of the action is to prohibit the construction of a Class II underground injection well in Maryland.

This regulatory proposal is open for public comment for 30 days. Public comments can be sent to Jeffrey Fretwell, Director, Legislative and Intergovernmental Relations, Maryland Department of the Environment, 1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21230, or call 410-537-3537, or email to, or fax to 410-537-3888. Comments will be accepted through December 28, 2016. A public hearing has not been scheduled.

Marcellus Shale Public Meetings & Issue Papers

The Department held 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 took place:

  • 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 provided an opportunity for the public to offer comments on the issue papers. Additionally, comments could be submitted via email or paper mail. Written comments were 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 later this year. Following proposal, the Department will provide an additional 30-day written comment period before taking any final action on the regulations.

Contact Information

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

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