In 2011, Governor Martin O'Malley issued an executive order that set up a commission to study the risks of fracking in Maryland before drilling occurs. The commission has not even begun its comprehensive studies on health and environmental impacts, yet the state is moving forward to develop actual rules for fracking in Maryland—some of which might be voluntary, rather than required, for the gas industry to follow.
Unfortunately, the state has the process backwards. First, the commission must issue its findings on possible threats from fracking to Maryland residents and the environment. Only then should Governor O'Malley and Secretary of the Environment Robert Summers even consider actual guidelines for drilling. The studies may show that drilling cannot be done safely under any conditions.