As Maryland considers whether to allow hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, it should avoid the environmental damage that Pennsylvania has suffered and the “shameful” example of the drilling industry’s political influence in that state, a former top Pennsylvania official told a Maryland General Assembly committee today.
John Quigley, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (photo above), told the Maryland House Environmental Matters Committee that natural gas also has environmental benefits, such as creating less air pollution and mercury contamination than coal.
But he cautioned Maryland lawmakers that there are “ample reasons” to be concerned about water pollution and other serious problems from drilling. The wastewater produced by drilling “is hundreds of times saltier than seawater,” Quigley said. “And it can come back with naturally occurring radioactive material.”
He added: “We have already experienced major problems with natural gas migration and contamination of drinking wells… We have had well blow-outs and fire… We have gas bubbling into the Susquehanna River, to everyone’s surprise.”
“A go-slow approach is justifiable,” Quigley advised Maryland officials. “New York is taking a pause” to study hydraulic fracturing before allowing large-scale drilling, he noted. “Take as much time as you can to understand these issues.”