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Md. environmental secretary: 2 yrs needed for Marcellus shale study

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s environmental secretary says state officials need up to two years to decide whether to approve natural gas drilling in western Maryland’s Marcellus shale deposits.

Robert Summers, the state’s acting secretary of the environment, testified Wednesday in Annapolis before state lawmakers in favor of a bill that would impose a drilling moratorium until safeguards are in place to protect drinking-water wells and prevent other pollution. Co-sponsors say they will submit an amendment setting a July 2013 deadline for completing the study.

Commissioners in Allegany and Garrett counties, meanwhile, are backing a bill to require state environmental officials propose regulations by the end of the year.