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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

Sunoco seeks to calm fears of Mariner East pipeline project in Chester County

Sunoco Logistics took its pipeline-promotion show on the road to Chester County on Monday, seeking to calm residents’ concerns surrounding the construction of a of a major new natural gas liquids pipeline from the Marcellus Shale of southwestern Pennsylvania to a processing plant at Marcus Hook near Philadelphia. Company officials sought to offset fears over [...]

Pennsylvania case studies mirror EPA’s national fracking report

A federal investigation into links between fracking and drinking water contamination in Bradford and Susquehanna Counties found some private water wells had been damaged by methane and ethane migration caused by nearby fracking. But the report found no evidence that homeowners’ private water wells and springs had been affected by frack fluids or waste water. In [...]

New pipeline could mean tax bonanza for NJ towns, but for Pa.? Not so much

As Republican legislative leaders and the natural gas industry unite to beat back Gov. Tom Wolf’s severance tax proposal, here’s something lawmakers in Harrisburg are not talking about: Companies building new pipelines to grow markets for Pennsylvania’s natural gas don’t have to pay local property taxes on those lines to counties, towns and school districts. So [...]

Report cites lack of data on fracking health issues

More than a decade into the U.S. fracking boom, researchers still don’t have enough information to determine whether the controversial method of extracting oil and gas threatens public health, a leading health-policy journal said on Monday. Health Affairs, which analyzes public-health issues for readers including government officials, health-care advocates and scholars, said a lack of [...]

Butler County gas leaseholders sue local opponents of zoning change

A dozen western Pennsylvania residents who have leased their land for gas drilling are suing local opponents of gas development in a case that free-speech advocates say could have far-reaching consequences for critics’ ability to debate the industry’s plans. A suit by the 12 leaseholders and a real estate developer in Middlesex and Adams Townships, [...]

EPA: Fracking water problems not widespread

The Environmental Protection Agency says fracking can cause water contamination, but the problems are not widespread. The EPA released its long-awaited draft study today on the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies. Speaking on a conference call with reporters, the EPA’s science advisor and deputy assistant administrator of the office of research and [...]

EPA issues new rule to protect small waterways

Small headwater streams, tributaries and waterways will now be protected by the Clean Water Act under a new rule announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The move has a number of opponents including farmers and the oil and gas industry, who say it’s an overreach of federal authority. [...]

Industry launches new TV ad opposing shale tax

The battle over Governor Wolf’s shale gas tax proposal took an acrimonious turn last week with dueling letters between the industry and the governor. Now the television ads have arrived. The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, which leads a coalition of groups opposing the shale gas tax, has begun running an ad against Governor [...]

Study: Lower than expected air pollutants detected at Marcellus drilling sites

An article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, published today, says measurements of air pollution from Marcellus drilling and transportation sites in Bradford and Sullivan counties were lower than the researchers expected. The study, “Atmosphere Emission Characterization of Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Development Sites,” also reports levels of methane emissions were higher than those indicated [...]

Case challenges township’s right to change zoning in favor of gas development

Local rights to zone for oil and gas development in Pennsylvania are being tested by a Butler County case in which plaintiffs claim a township has acted unconstitutionally by failing to protect residents from the effects of a sharp increase in industrial activity. Middlesex Township, about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh, approved an ordinance in August [...]

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