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Scientific Panel Will Examine Public Concerns Related To Shale Gas Drilling

Scott Detrow/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

A natural gas drill rig in Tioga State Forest.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports a National Academy of Sciences committee will convene next week to scrutinize public concerns and potential risks of shale gas drilling.
The panel will examine a number of topics including air, water, and climate concerns, but they will not issue specific recommendations, according to the Post-Gazette:

“This review will be successful if the current state of knowledge about shale gas drilling is clarified and the uncertainties identified so we have better understanding and insights to help manage the risks,” said Mitchell Small, the NAS committee chair and Carnegie Mellon University professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He will moderate a discussion this morning on a survey of concerns about lesser-studied drilling issues including impacts on rural quality of life, domestic animals, industry transparency and social justice.
Paul Stern, director of the review and senior scholar with the academy’s Board on Environmental Change and Society, said the review’s goal is to pull together the best available information for use by national and state policymakers.

Water quality concerns have been repeatedly raised during Pennsylvania’s gas drilling boom, and particularly┬áthis week, after the Scranton Times-Tribune published an analysis of nearly 1,000 enforcement letters from the state Department of Environmental Protection between 2008 and 2012:

One in six investigations across the roughly five-year period – 17 percent of the records – found that oil and gas activity disrupted water supplies either temporarily or seriously enough to require companies to replace the spoiled source.

The Times Tribune found oil and gas development damaged water supplies for at least 161 properties in Pennsylvania.
The NAS committee meeting will be held next Thursday and Friday in Washington D.C.

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