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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

Study: residents closer to gas wells report more health issues

A new study has found that residents in western Pennsylvania living close to Marcellus Shale gas drilling sites were twice as likely to report health problems than those living farther away. Public health researchers from Yale and the University of Washington went door-to-door and surveyed the health of 492 adults and children living in 180 [...]

New study will examine impact of shale boom on families

Here’s the question that’s been nagging Penn State University researcher Molly Martin for years: When it comes to a child’s success, how much does money matter? Martin says that’s been a tough one for sociologists like her to answer. That is, until the Marcellus Shale boom. “It’s very rare that you can separate the money [...]

Drilling underway at Pittsburgh International Airport

A major plan to drill for natural gas under Pittsburgh International Airport is underway. Politicians, including Gov. Tom Corbett, and officials from Consol Energy kicked off the project in a ceremony at the airport today. More from the Associated Press: The Monday morning ceremony featured remarks by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, Democratic County Executive Rich [...]

FEMA: no flood assistance for property owners with natural gas leases

The Scranton Times-Tribune reports that property owners with natural gas leases are no longer eligible for federal hazard mitigation assistance after a flood. The new policy, enacted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on May 5, has affected eight households in Pennsylvania in Wyoming and Lycoming Counties. It means that FEMA will not buy out [...]

Maryland takes a public health approach on fracking that Pa. hasn’t tried

Air pollution is among one of the greatest public health concerns related to Marcellus Shale drilling, according to a new health impact assessment released this week by the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Commissioned by the Maryland Department of Public Health through an executive order by Gov. Martin O’Malley, the study assesses potential [...]

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 [...]

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