FROSTBURG, Md. (AP) — A Towson University study of the potential economic impact of shale gas drilling in far western Maryland fails to answer what some critics said Monday is their biggest question: How would hydraulic fracturing for natural gas affect the tourism that accounts for a large share of the economy in Garrett County, where most of the drilling would occur?
Several members of the state panel that commissioned the study, including state Delegate Heather Mizeur, asked the authors to include language in their final report next month highlighting their lack of information about the tourism impact, as well their lack of cost analysis of a potential disaster such as widespread contamination of drinking water.
"Let's just get real about what we were able to discover and, quite honestly, how much more there is that we didn't even begin to touch on that was the whole initial charge of this commission to begin with," Mizeur said. The Montgomery County Democrat made her opposition to hydraulic fracturing a part of her failed gubernatorial bid earlier this year.
Study author Daraius Irani of Towson's Regional Economic Studies Institute, said his team found a dearth of usable data about the impact of hydraulic fracturing in tourist areas. The institute produced the $150,000 study for a state commission that aims to recommend regulations this fall for safe drilling in Maryland's portion of the Marcellus shale formation.
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