Gas industry urges governor to OK drilling

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The natural gas industry is urging Gov. Martin O'Malley to allow drilling in western Maryland's section of the Marcellus Shale.

The Maryland Petroleum Council said in a statement Sunday that the geological formation underlying parts of the state's western panhandle represents a great opportunity for economic growth and clean energy.

O'Malley is supporting amendments to legislation establishing a moratorium on drilling permits until August 2013. He says he wants to be sure the drilling can be done in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

Companies obtain gas from the shale through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The technique has been blamed for water contamination and reduced property values elsewhere, especially Pennsylvania.

The industry says it shouldn't take 2 1/2 years to incorporate lessons learned elsewhere into Maryland drilling regulations.

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