Thanks to Natural Gas Drilling, PA's Water Is Flammable

News & Politics

According to the United States Geological Survey, the Marcellus Shale Formation, which stretches across 9 states and into Canada, is believed to contain up to 50 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. Potentially, two thousand natural gas wells could be drilled across northern and western Pennsylvania in the coming years.

Extracting this resource presents an incredible economic opportunity for much of the Appalachian Basin, and could help meet America's future energy needs. However, if the drilling is not done right, we could be faced with an environmental nightmare from which the region may never recover.

The wells into the Marcellus formation are very different from traditional natural gas wells. They are bigger, deeper, and present a host of environmental threats, including:

  • Requiring two to four million gallons of fresh water per well, which could come from nearby streams.
  • Producing a million or more gallons per well of heavily polluted water.
  • Requiring exceptionally large well pads--up to 5 acres each-and a series of roads and pipelines to connect them. These pads, roads and pipelines encroach upon pristine habitats, damaging streams and fragmenting our forest habitat.
  • Storing chemicals at the well site that contribute to air pollution and the prolific use of diesel trucks which spew soot into air breathed by nearby residents. Diesel soot has been linked to variety of cardiovascular diseases, including lung cancer.

Clean Water Action Pennsylvania is working with a coalition of organizations from across the state to urge the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental protection to enforce existing rules, and strengthen drilling standards to protect residents, water, health, and environment.

The PA Campaign for Clean Water has made a number of suggestions to DEP Secretary John Hanger for policies that would protect our watersheds from damage, and continues to press top DEP officials to make sure that our rivers and streams are protected. Pennsylvania must learn the lesson from past coal mining experience, and do things right this time!

In the video to the right, Victoria Switzer, a resident of Dimock, Pennsylvania, shares her account of local drilling development and the affect it is already having on her community.

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