Md. environment Sec. Summers testifies at fracking hearing

WASHINGTON — Maryland’s environmental secretary is calling on the federal government to take a more active role in studying and regulating natural gas drilling.

Acting Secretary Robert Summers appeared Tuesday at a hearing in Washington on a natural gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The technique involves pumping chemicals, water and sand underground to break apart rock formations and free natural gas. Critics are concerned about the impact on groundwater and drinking water.

Summers says drilling won’t start in Maryland until state officials know whether it can be done safely. And he says hydraulic fracturing and waste disposal are among the activities that should be looked at more closely by the federal government.

The technique is being used in the Marcellus Shale formation running under parts of western Maryland.

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