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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

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. [...]

Pa. confirms drilling “buzzword” list; says it’s meant to guide, not silence employees

Did Pennsylvania health department officials circulate a list of drilling-related “buzzwords” and a meeting permission form that led department staff to believe they were being silenced on the issue of natural gas development? Two weeks ago, when StateImpact Pennsylvania first reported on the buzzwords list and meeting form, the department’s answer to that question was [...]

Pa. DEP reviewing thousands of comments on overhaul of drilling regulations

Pennsylvania environmental regulators are wading through more than 25,000 public comments on a proposed overhaul of the state’s oil and gas regulations. The Department of Environmental Protection says those comments could represent as many as 5,000 different suggestions for changes from the industry, environmental groups, and Pennsylvania citizens. The regulations would update Chapter 78 of [...]

Shell’s proposed ethane cracker could be a big emitter

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Shell’s proposed ethane cracker in western Pennsylvania could be a significant new source of air pollution. The company has not yet committed to building the multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant, but has applied to the Department of Environmental Protection for an air quality permit for the site in Monaca, Beaver County. More from [...]

Former state health employees say they were silenced on drilling

Two retirees from the Pennsylvania Department of Health say its employees were silenced on the issue of Marcellus Shale drilling. One veteran employee says she was instructed not to return phone calls from residents who expressed health concerns about natural gas development. “We were absolutely not allowed to talk to them,” said Tammi Stuck, who [...]

Corbett, Wolf talk environment, energy during first joint appearance

Republican Governor Tom Corbett and his Democratic challenger Tom Wolf shared a podium Wednesday night. The event, hosted by an environmental group at the Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia, was their first joint appearance on the campaign trail. Both candidates were careful to keep their distance, even during a photo op orchestrated by their hosts, [...]

New poll finds Pennsylvanians favor shale drilling, but not on public lands

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that a majority of Pennsylvania voters support the state’s Marcellus Shale boom. However, the poll found most of them oppose the idea of more drilling in the state’s parks and forests. Fifty-eight percent of voters said they are in favor of natural gas development and 33 percent said they oppose [...]

Gas boom starts to hit home for residents of Southeastern Pa.

In the past few years, the Marcellus Shale has rapidly become one of the most productive gas plays on the planet. But for many people in Southeastern Pennsylvania– the state’s most populated region– the boom has been out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Until now. The region is beginning to experience the tradeoffs long familiar to those who live [...]

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