USGS assesses natural gas potential in Maryland
() - A new government assessment has identified two areas covering nearly all of Southern Maryland that have the potential for hydraulic fracturing to produce natural gas. Using existing wells and test wells, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates the gas in five Mesozoic basins along the East Coast at 3.9 trillion cubic feet. The agency identified nine other basins that likely have supplies of gas, but did not assess the quantity because of a lack of data.
The Taylorsville basin runs through some of Virginia and across the Potomac River to cover much of Maryland's Charles County, some of Prince George's County and up to Annapolis, Md. That basin was assessed and found to contain an estimated 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Some of the Delmarva basin covers parts of Maryland's Eastern Shore and extends across the Chesapeake Bay. That basin was not assessed, said Jim Coleman, research geologist for the USGS, though it likely contains gas.
"It doesn't say it's going to happen, but it says it could happen," Mitch Jones, common resources program director of the Food and Water Watch, said of fracking in Southern Maryland. "We don't really know the full scale of what we could be looking at" based on the unassessed basins, he said. Gov. Martin O'Malley has a standing executive order not to issue fracking permits, essentially prohibiting the practice in Maryland while a commission studies it.