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The Marcellus Shale, Explained

Background

Marcellus Shale is a sedimentary rock buried thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface. It stretches from upstate New York south through Pennsylvania to West Virginia and west to parts of Ohio. Named after a town in upstate New York, the rock itself is millions of years old, formed from mud and organic material. The natural gas created over millions of years as a byproduct of decomposition is trapped in tiny spaces and fissures within the rock. The Marcellus Shale is just one of many shale formations across the world. When industry speaks of tapping shale gas, it often refers to it as a “shale play.” The Marcellus is one of the first shale plays to be tapped, after the Barnett Shale formation in Texas.

Latest Posts

Groups call for investigation into health department’s handling of drilling

Despite calls from environmental groups, it is not clear that there will be an investigation into how the Pennsylvania Department of Health handled complaints about Marcellus Shale natural gas development. “At this time, we are not looking to audit the Department of Health on this issue,” said Susan Woods, a spokeswoman for Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. [...]

Pa. health department updates policies for drilling-related complaints

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Monday it has updated its policies for handling complaints related to Marcellus Shale drilling. All those who file a complaint with the department’s Bureau of Epidemiology will now receive a letter acknowledging their concerns and outlining the agency’s findings. The changes follow a recent investigation by StateImpact Pennsylvania in which two [...]

Report faults EPA for failing to regulate fracking with diesel

A new report out today reveals natural gas drillers could be using diesel to frack wells without the mandated federal permits. Unlike other chemicals used in gas drilling, Congress requires extensive oversight if diesel is present. The so-called Halliburton Loophole in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempts chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing from federal [...]

New Marcellus Shale gas pipeline proposed for Pa., NJ

The Philadelphia Inquirer has the details on a proposed $1 billion pipeline project to bring natural gas from the Marcellus Shale to customers on the east coast. Wyomissing-based PennEast Pipeline Company said the pipeline would start in Luzerne County and travel about 105 miles to hook up with Transco’s Trenton-Woodbury interconnection in New Jersey. The company [...]

Southwestern Energy fined for drilling unpermitted wells in Bradford County

Southwestern Energy Production company will have to pay $128,031 for drilling five unpermitted Marcellus Shale gas wells in Bradford County. The state Department of Environmental Protection announced the fine today after the Houston, Texas company continued to drill even after the DEP issued a “notice of violation” in January 2013. Southwestern Energy has 229 active [...]

Pa. health department reaches out to doctors amid controversy over drilling complaints

Are doctors in Pennsylvania seeing patients with possible health effects from natural gas development? The state Department of Health wants to know. The agency reached out to physicians through the Pennsylvania Medical Society this week, following a recent investigation by StateImpact Pennsylvania into how the agency handled drilling-related health complaints. In a message on the society’s website, [...]

Corbett agrees to hold off on new gas leases on state lands pending lawsuit

The Corbett administration has agreed to hold off on leasing any more state land for natural gas drilling until a case challenging the practice is settled. In exchange, the environmental group suing the stateagreed not to challenge the use of state conservation money to fund the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The Pennsylvania Environmental [...]

Pennsylvania cuts funding to Delaware River commission

Pennsylvania is cutting its share of funding to the agency that oversees issues from water quality to flood management in the Delaware River watershed, the Scranton Times-Tribune reports. The Delaware River Basin Commission, or DRBC, is run by the federal government and the governors of the four states that share the watershed – New York, [...]

How are energy boom states dealing with drilling-related health complaints?

Is heavy drilling making some people sick? It a question doctors, public health researchers and regulators in oil and gas-producing states are still struggling to answer roughly six years into the American shale boom. So far, one thing is clear: different states approach the issue of public health and drilling in different ways. StateImpact Pennsylvania [...]

In Colorado, a public database for drilling-related complaints

In Pennsylvania, the state Department of Health’s Bureau of Epidemiology logs complaints related to natural gas development in a database that the agency says is not available to the public. StateImpact Pennsylvania has reported that department employees were also given a list of drilling-related “buzzwords” as part of a guidance on how to handle complaints. [...]

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