Gov. Martin O’Malley is ready to allow the controversial natural gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and he’s poised to propose the strictest standards in the country. But even after years of deliberation and contention, fracking in Maryland still holds more questions than answers.
Out in northern Garrett County, in far western Maryland, Frank Vitez has been waiting for years for hydraulic fracturing to come. When I visited him this fall, he took me up a hill on his property to show just how close he is to the Pennsylvania border. He knows that Pennsylvania landowners—people just like him—profit from the gas under their land. With the horizontal drilling techniques that have ushered in a new energy boom in the US, the well pads just beyond the border could be used to frack his gas.