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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

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 [...]

Energy industry invests in Philly mayor’s race

Since Marcellus Shale development boomed, Philadelphia has been a thorn in the side of the gas industry. The city has not seen many of the economic benefits that places like Williamsport, or Pittsburgh have. And it tends to be home to well-organized, experienced environmental groups used to taking on powerful adversaries. When the industry invited [...]

FERC rejects environmentalists appeal on Cove Point LNG exports

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has denied a request by several environmental groups to halt construction on Dominion Energy’s Cove Point LNG export terminal in Lusby, MD and conduct a more thorough environmental review. Environmentalists have been fighting the conversion of the mothballed import terminal into an import/export facility, saying FERC should consider the environmental [...]

New study links gas drilling to water contamination in NE Pa.

New research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows evidence of a connection between gas drilling and water contamination that occurred in Bradford County in 2010. The researchers used a new method of testing for contaminants that can detect much smaller amounts of chemicals than the instruments typically used in commercial [...]

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