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Md. bills to ban or delay gas drilling are dead

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland lawmakers seeking to block the gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing have struck out in the General Assembly.

The Cumberland Times-News reports that a bill seeking a moratorium on the practice was withdrawn Thursday in the House of Delegates after a similar Senate bill died in committee.

The same committee killed another bill Wednesday that would have banned hydraulic fracturing outright.

A state advisory commission is working on recommendations to allow the technique in Maryland. No drilling permits can be issued until after its final report in August 2014.

The process uses chemicals, water and sand to crack underground rock and free natural gas. Critics say it threatens the ground water and creates toxic wastewater.

The drilling would occur in the Marcellus shale in Garrett and Allegany counties.