CUMBERLAND, Md. -- Prospects for a natural gas bonanza in western Maryland have dimmed, at least temporarily.
Experts say market forces and a drawn-out state review of proposed drilling practices have weakened the state's appeal to the energy industry. Heavy production elsewhere has pushed natural gas prices to about a third of what they were in 2008.
The Maryland Petroleum Council says drilling companies have allowed many gas exploration leases in Maryland to expire to conserve cash.
A state panel's recommendations for safe drilling are due in August. One proposal would require two years of pre-development water monitoring, which would delay drilling to at least 2016.
Drilling proponents say Maryland is missing out on the shale gas boom.
Opponents say they're not celebrating yet, as drilling is possible in the long run.
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