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Public Input Welcome At Fracking Meeting In Western Maryland

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Residents of western Maryland will get an update later today from a group looking at the impact of natural gas drilling in the region.

The Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, a panel studying the effects of natural gas drilling in western Maryland, is holding a meeting at 6 p.m. tonight in McHenry, according to the Associated Press. The state Department of the Environment says the meeting at Garrett College will keep residents apprised of the panel's work, and will also give those who were unable to attend daytime meetings but still want to make public comment a chance to have their say.

The commission was created to help policymakers and regulators determine whether or how the practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can be done without unacceptable risk to public health and the environment.

Opponents of fracking, which involves injecting a proprietary mix of water and chemicals into cracks in the shale formation in order to release natural gas, say it poses a danger to the environment and could compromise the tourism industry in the area. Supporters say the production of natural gas would be an economic boon to the local energy industry.

The commission has until the end of the year to produce a draft report on best practices. The overall final report on the impact of gas drilling is in 2014.

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