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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

USGS: Fracking water quality data “scarce”

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey say there’s just not enough data to figure out the impact of fracking on water quality. The American Geophysical Union’s Water Resources Research published an article about the USGS study today.   “We mined the national water-quality databases from 1970 – 2010 and were able to assess long-term trends in [...]

Federal court weighs in on air emissions controversy in Pa. gas fields

A federal court weighed in on a contentious debate over air emissions from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas sector this week. In Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future v. Ultra Resources Inc., Pennsylvania’s Middle District Court ruled against the environmental group, more commonly known as PennFuture, and in favor of the gas company. But in the 31-page decision, U.S. [...]

Senate committee approves shale gas health bill

A bill to create a Marcellus Shale health advisory panel, which never made it out of committee last year, was approved by the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee unanimously today.  Senate Bill 375, introduced by Senate Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati (R-Jefferson), would create a nine-member panel to advise the legislature on the health impacts of [...]

Shale gas boom has utilities rushing to increase electricity supply

One of the largest electricity providers in the Marcellus Shale gas region is planning to spend $35 million in infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the increasing need for power at natural gas processing plants and compressor stations. FirstEnergy Corp. recently announced plans to expand electric substations and upgrade large electric power lines. Tim Myers, a spokesman [...]

Gas industry hopes to score points with Super Bowl ads

How hot is shale gas? Hot enough to warrant ad buys during the Super Bowl on Sunday. The American Petroleum Institute has purchased local ad time during the big game in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Colorado, touting the benefits of shale gas development. National advertisers are spending $4.5 million for 30 seconds of air time [...]

Gov. Wolf bans new drilling in state parks and forests

Governor Tom Wolf fulfilled a campaign promise today by reversing course from his predecessor Tom Corbett and imposing a moratorium on leasing any more state park and forest land to Marcellus Shale drillers. Standing in a cold and windy meadow at Benjamin Rush state park, in the northeast section of Philadelphia, surrounded by a handful [...]

Fracking protests grow in North Africa

Some of the earliest protests against fracking, and natural gas drilling, began here in Pennsylvania. They spread to New York, and then overseas to Europe. Like New York state, countries like France, Germany, and Bulgaria responded with fracking bans. Others like South Africa, have moratoriums. Now, the oil and gas rich nation of Algeria has [...]

Penn students jump into the fracking fray with a new technology

One of the pressing questions regarding fracking is whether or not the chemicals used to help pry the gas from tight rock formations like the Marcellus Shale leaks or migrates to drinking water supplies. But testing water for contamination and linking it directly to gas drilling has proven problematic. Imagine if you could determine whether [...]

Feds fine Marcellus driller XTO $2.3 million

The Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Department of Justice, have fined XTO, a subsidiary of ExxonMobile, $2.3 million for violating the Clean Water Act. The damage to streams and wetlands took place in West Virginia and includes an estimated $3 million remediation price tag. During drilling operations at eight separate sites, the company dumped [...]

DEP slaps Vantage Energy with massive fine for landslide and dumping

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fined the Colorado-based Vantage Energy almost $1 million for more than a dozen violations of the state’s Clean Streams Law and the  Oil and Gas Act. The sanction stems from a landslide at the company’s Porter Street well site in Franklin Township, Greene County. But it turns out the landslide [...]

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