After a long wait, the issue papers on the Marcellus shale regulations were released last week.   As we move through this process, it is imperative that we all participate in some way if we are going to preserve your right to choose to produce your gas.  The information on the public hearings and the addresses for written responses are below.   

The board will met Monday, June 27, 2016, at 4:00 to review and discuss the content and scope of the proposed regulations and craft a response.  We will also be developing a strategy to rally support to counter the ongoing effort to establish a ban or moratorium in the next legislative session.  You are welcome to join us for the discussion.  It is important, though, that we have a substantial turnout at the meeting on June 29, 2016, at the Garrett College auditorium from 6-8 to let it be known that there are supporters of the development of gas production.  

The Maryland Department of the Environment (“the Department”) has developed Marcellus Shale “issue papers” that discuss specific topics that generated extensive interest when the Department proposed new regulations for oil and gas exploration and production 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. 
These issue papers are attached to this email and will be posted to the Department’s website at  The Department will be holding three public meetings to discuss these issue papers.  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 three public meetings will provide an opportunity for the public to provide comments on the issue papers.  Additionally, comments on the issue papers 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.
Any questions should be directed to Jeffrey Fretwell – or 410-537-3537.

Thank you for your continued support.  We will keep you informed as we move forward with this issue.

Bill Bishoff or

Esteemed Legislators, 

  I live in Garrett County and our family has a dairy farm which has been in the family since 1879, so to say I care about it  and my legacy would be a bit of an understatement.   I have also been involved in the debate about producing the Marcellus  since MDE started holding public meetings to talk about permitting wells here in  2008.  My interest has two sources;  we own our gas rights, so like many Garrett citizens, there is the potential  that the gas we own could be a very significant portion of our property right, and I attended the College of Mining and Energy Resources at West Virginia  University which offers degrees for mining engineering and petroleum engineering  and gained some training specific to the subject.   In addition to the value this resource has to me, I think it holds enormous good for the people of Maryland as well and this is what I would like  to talk to you about today.

  Although it causes me great pain to say it, I  will admit that Governor O’Malley did have a plan when he declared the first moratorium and created the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative.   He recognized that Maryland could not only create a better drilling protocol by taking the time to study the process but more importantly, he hoped  that Maryland could help drive regulations forward nationwide by demonstrating that wells here were better.  This  is a very important consideration considering that the impacts on Maryland by  wells in neighboring states will have far greater consequences to Maryland and  the Bay than the relatively small number of wells which could be drilled in  Maryland.  To engage in another  Moratorium, Ban or punitive action like a Strict Liability statute which effectively would prevent drilling, will also prevent Maryland from ever  influencing anybody.  Senator  Edwards has said at some point in the last couple of years that landowners need to just settle down and work with the process.  He pointed out that Maryland has the best coal mining regulations in the country and we win nationwide awards for it and that same thing can be true for natural gas production.  But that advice is also true for the people that are carrying on fear  mongering about shale gas production.
I would also like to point out that while there  are valid concerns about public health and HVHF there are some considerations  that you should weigh when people talk to you about them.   Possibly the biggest is that most of the health studies have been done in  areas which produce wet gas, which results in exponentially larger wellhead  emissions of all types compared to the dry gas production expected in  Maryland.  Wet wells not only vent  hydrocarbons and possibly fracking components from holding talks but also through flaring, which in some cases (like the Bakken), is a lot of flaring.  MDE has put a lot of  thought into this and controlling wellhead emissions is one of their prime  concerns.  Brigid Kenney has  stated that flaring would be “extremely limited”.   It is also true that some of the troublesome hydrocarbon variants like benzene and toluene are not as common in dry wells, since they have been reduced by geologic cracking like all the other useful liquid variants into the simpler “dry” methane molecule, which is why these wells are called “dry gas  wells” to begin with.  If you  consider these things combined with the toughest regulations in the country,  drilling here will be safe by any normal standards. From the view of the state legislature,I think  you need to consider the benefit the gas from these wells can produce.  If you start with a fuel that produces  half of the carbon emissions as coal per BTU and burn it in a Seimens dual cycle power plant with twice the energy conversion efficiency as a coal plant, you can  reduce the carbon emissions per KW by 75 percent. Then if you locate the plant closer to the consumer, you can boost that  number even more by lowering grid losses, which currently consume half of the produced power in the US.  When you  consider the public health benefits of nearly eliminating heavy metals and sulfur emissions and greatly reducing NOX emissions, this is a huge  consideration for a state with a large urban population which can benefit from  improved air quality and Garrett County, itself, which has 5 coal power stations  within 50 miles.  Equally important is the potential of gas power production to address climate change, which is  quite a threat to both the Lower Eastern and Western shores.  Fracking is making it possible to change the way we produce power in this country and that means we need to find a way to make fracking work better, not push it away.
I hope we can find a way to allow the regulatory  process to move forward. MDE fully recognizes the danger that fracking components can pose if they are released  into the environment, and they have proposed Best Management Practices to manage  that danger.  The next step is to  permit a small number of wells to actually test their hypothesis and closely  study those wells to see if they have solved the problem.  To engage in another 8 year moratorium to study whether fracking  components are safe when released into the environment is not going to lead to a  different conclusion or a solution to the problem.In the end, the benefits of gas power production  are so large and apparent that Maryland will likely keep pushing to produce more and more of our power that way. It  would be too bad if we put ourselves in the ethically challenged position of depending on fracking in other states to provide the gas while we can’t come to  grips with it here.  If we work  this out, I can benefit, my community can benefit and the State of Maryland as a  whole can benefit, but to just keep kicking the can down the road, we all  lose.

Billy  Bishoff
The  Energy and Property Coalition


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Shawn Bender gave an hour-long presentation on shale gas drilling and answered a bevy of thoughtful questions from fifth graders at Georges Creek Elementary School Feb. 25. Teacher Bobbie Kirkwood said the students had researched hydraulic fracturing, prepared questions for Shawn Bender, Vice President of Gas and Oil Services at Beitzel Corporation, and then were going to be writing opinion articles on the subject.
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Grantsville – A new coalition of farmers, property owners, businesses and labor organizations in Garrett and Allegany Counties has organized to advocate for safe shale gas drilling in western Maryland and to moderate the most extreme aspects of oil and gas regulations, proposed last month by Maryland’s Department of the Environment.
    In the final days of the Martin O’Malley administration, MDE registered the proposed regulations, which the Energy and Property Rights Coalition believes is “overly restrictive with unprecedented requirements to an extent that would quash any potential for shale gas drilling in Garrett and Allegany Counties.”  As a result, the landowners’ coalition has submitted its “strenuous” objections to the proposed regulations – via Cumberland attorney Robert S. Paye – to MDE as well as members of the Maryland General Assembly’s Administrative, Executive and Law Review Committee.
    “We strongly support putting these regulations on hold until the new administration has a chance to review them,” said Bill Bishoff, Energy and Property Rights Coalition president. “Plus, Senator George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel need our help in informing Maryland lawmakers that many western Maryland citizens don’t support these proposed regulations.” Bishoff and the coalition’s board of directors hope a new “call to action” to some 1400 property owners will finally enable the region’s “silent majority” to speak out and be heard.
    Well over 90 percent of the comments and input, of which state officials based the looming gas extraction regulations, are negative opinions from environmental alarmists, according to the new coalition. “Until now, there had been no organization to advance safe gas development in western Maryland and to promote the transformative and economic fiscal impacts shale gas extraction would have for the region,” explained Bishoff. At the recent PACE reception in Annapolis, he and other coalition members met with hundreds of government and business leaders to explain what’s at stake for energy and property rights in western Maryland.
    Delegate Beitzel supports the new coalition and told members at a recent meeting: “Horizontal drilling – not hydraulic fracturing – has become the real game changer in energy extraction from shale formations. Natural gas drilling has occurred in Garrett County with no lasting adverse environmental damage. Further exploration into the Marcellus Shale would have a positive impact on our local economy by providing much needed jobs and added revenue.”
    Senator Edwards also endorses the new effort, however, during his visit to the Energy and Property Rights Coalition’s PACE exhibit, he noted, “It’s long overdue.”
    Support for safe shale gas development in Garrett County has also come from the Garrett County Commissioners, the Garrett Chamber of Commerce and the Garrett County Farm Bureau.
    Yet, while landowners, workers and businesses in adjoining states are prospering from shale gas development, Maryland has stymied gas exploration, by trying to formulate the so-called “gold standard” regulations on gas development, the coalition maintains. There are also – among certain environmentalists – new efforts to push for a long-term moratorium on natural gas exploration, despite the just ended 3 ½ year study the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative Advisory Commission completed for the O’Malley administration.
    The Energy and Property Rights Coalition will push for the rights of property owners to use and develop natural resources subject to reasonable regulations similar to adjoining states. One of the many reasons the extreme restrictions will backfire, according to Bishoff and Paye, is that “the Maryland Marcellus Shale area is only 1.6 percent of the total Marcellus Shale play in neighboring states. If Maryland, with such a tiny area but with significant gas reserves, attempts to apply such extreme and difficult regulations, it is obvious that gas companies will simply bypass Maryland and concentrate production in the adjoining states.”
    Natural gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, producing 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal and 30 percent less than oil, according to industry experts. The extraction process is labor intensive, generating many high–paying jobs, and gas shale development also provides payments in leases and royalties to landowners.
    For more information visit the coalition’s Web site:

Copyright 2015 Energy and Property Rights Coalition