A Maryland commission is pushing for changes in the law that would make it easier for landowners to sue natural gas drillers for contaminating ground water through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

The new law would shift the burden of proof to energy companies by creating a “rebuttable presumption” that drilling activity causes certain kinds of damages occurring close in time and proximity to natural gas operations.

Ballard Spahr attorney Harry Weiss, who is a member of the advisory commission, said: “I think (asymmetry of resources) always has been an issue in litigation, particularly where an aggrieved party, Joe Homeowner, is suing a Fortune 500 company.” Weiss said Pennsylvania already has a similar presumption statute for damages that occur near natural gas operations.