Opponents of fracking, the controversial drilling technique that extracts natural gas from rock, are rallying in Annapolis. The activists are marching in support of a bill that would assess a $10 per-acre fee on land leased for extracting gas in the Marcellus Shale.
Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, involves blasting through layers of rock with a combination of water and chemicals. The process includes the potential for contamination of ground water in the blasted area, and environmentalists are concerned about the long-term effects on the surrounding ecosystems as well as the residents that inhabit them.
The bill, sponsored by Delegate Heather Mizeur of Montgomery County, would use the fee to pay for a safe drilling study commissioned last year by Governor Martin O'Malley.
The Senate version of the bill will be heard in that chamber's Finance Committee today.
The only portion of the Marcellus Shale that lies in Maryland is in the western part of the state.