Garrett County Considers Ban on Watershed Fracking Wellheads

Mar 7, 2016

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OAKLAND, Md. (AP) - The Garrett County Commissioners are considering a Deep Creek Lake watershed management plan that would restrict natural-gas drilling around Maryland's largest freshwater lake.

The vote is on the agenda for a meeting Monday afternoon.

The watershed covers 41,000 acres around the lake, including many vacation homes and tourism businesses. The plan would prohibit natural gas wellheads within the watershed.

Parts of the watershed overlie the gas-rich Marcellus shale rock formation. State environmental regulators are developing rules for allowing companies to drill for gas as early as 2017 using a technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Fracking involves both vertical and horizontal drilling. The plan would prohibit vertical drilling and gas collection within the watershed but allow horizontal drilling beneath the surface, so drillers could still reach the gas.