Posted December 17, 2016
Given the way safe energy development is helping next-door Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, it’s hard to figure out the thinking in Maryland, where proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations could squelch benefits for state residents and businesses without making things any safer.
Here’s what we know about how energy – largely produced in other states – is benefiting Maryland:
- Natural gas use has increased nearly 18 percent over the past decade, with almost half of the state’s residents using gas as their primary fuel for home heating.
- Surging natural gas production – from other states – has created an abundance lowering the price of gas for Maryland’s residential consumers 26 percent from 2006 through 2015 – saving households that use gas on average hundreds of dollars compared to other fuels.
- Rising commercial use of natural gas is saving business and industrial entities that use gas, on average, hundreds of dollars compared to other fuels.
- Air pollution from electric utilities has declined in the state since 2006 as natural gas use has increased. According to EIA, emissions from utilities of nitrogen oxides are down more than 78 percent, emissions of particulate matter 2.5 and 10 both are down more than 80 percent and sulfur dioxide emissions are down nearly 92 percent.
- In terms of greenhouse gases, emissions of carbon dioxide from power generation in Maryland fell 39 percent between 2005 and 2014, largely because of “increased reliance on natural gas,” said? the Maryland Commission on Climate Change
Energy’s benefits could be extended in Maryland if the state allowed safe operations in the far western counties where the Marcellus Shale could be developed – instead of making development more difficult with more restrictive regulation.
Look at the findings from a pair of studies. Sage Policy Group found that drilling in Western Maryland would support more than 1,800 jobs annually in 2025, with a labor impact of more than $85 million and value added to the economy of more than $316 million. The report estimated energy development would support an additional $65 million in revenue to Allegany County and $162 million to Garrett County, in total from 2015 through 2045. Recent analysis by Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies Institute estimated that natural gas pipeline construction and gas conversion activity would support an average of 7,318 jobs each year over 10 years in Maryland and add an average of $395.7 million in gross state product and $349.7 million in wages each year to the state’s economy.
These benefits are in Maryland’s reach with safe energy development, which is occurring in a number of other states. Drew Cobbs, Maryland Petroleum Council executive director:
“We are an industry that has a proven record of providing environmental and economic benefits, and forward-thinking policies that attract new investment where they are greatly needed in Western Maryland are critical.”
Unfortunately, a number of Maryland’s proposed regulations are overly restrictive and could hinder development. These include setback requirements, many of which are more restrictive than those in neighboring producing states; excessive requirements for well construction and additional layers of casing, beyond proven industry best practices; and putting numerous areas surrounding watersheds off limits for development. Cobbs:
“The oil and natural gas industry has proven its ability, through the development of millions of wells, to protect public health and meet strict environmental standards without unnecessary regulations that could limit job creation or restrict economic opportunities for local communities in Western Maryland.”
Industry’s commitment to best practices, well construction standards and safe hydraulic fracturing operations is being demonstrated around the country. Working under the oversight of effective state regulatory regimes, companies are working to protect the environment and surrounding communities. Cobbs:
“That commitment, combined with technological innovations of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, is what has positioned the United States as the world’s leader in production of natural gas as carbon emissions and ozone levels continue to fall, all while helping to lower energy costs for consumers.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.