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Md. bill would hold gas drilling companies strictly liable

ANNAPOLIS — A measure under consideration by state lawmakers would hold natural gas drilling companies liable for damages in Maryland.

A Senate panel held a hearing on the bill Wednesday.

The drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, hasn’t been allowed yet in Maryland. But Sen. Robert Zirkin, the Baltimore County Democrat who is sponsoring the bill, says companies should be responsible for any future damages caused to the environment or residents.

The measure also says land lease agreements that waive or diminish an individual’s right to sue would be against public policy.

Drew Cobbs, executive director of the Maryland Petroleum Council, says the measure would put Maryland at a competitive disadvantage with other states. He says it could prevent drilling from happening in Maryland.

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