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Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Environmental Dangers of Hydro-Fracturing the Marcellus Shale

by Robert Myers, Ph.D. (Lock Haven University)


Over the past four years, I have watched the hydro-fracturing industry rapidly expand into central Pennsylvania, and I have been disturbed by the consequences.  The state forests, where generations of Pennsylvanians have hunted, fished, and hiked, have been defaced by a growing network of well pads.  But even more disturbing are the effects that we can't see.  Unknown chemicals are being pumped thousands of feet underground.  The extreme pressures involved in the hydro-fracturing process are forcing methane gas into people's homes and into their water supplies.  Thousands of gallons of chemicals have been spilled in our forests and streams.  It's clear to me that hydro-fracturing is the single biggest environmental threat to Pennsylvania that this generation faces. 
 This site attempts to sort through conflicting claims in order to present objectively the facts on the effects of hydro-fracturing and to provide thorough documentation for every claim.  I welcome any corrections or comments on this page (email me at rmyers3@lhup.edu).  I have spoken on this issue to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioner's National Conference, the Penn State Marcellus Shale Law Symposium, the Sustainable Energy Fund Green Bag Lunch Series, the EPIC Frac Event, and the Grey to Green Festival, and would be glad to speak to other groups.
 Just Water and SandThe natural gas industry would like us to believe that the fluid used in hydro-fracturing is harmless.  Energy in Depth (a public relations shill for the oil and natural gas industry) has prepared "A Fluid Situation" that shows a "typical solution" used in fracking.  According to this document, fracking solution is 95.51% water and sand, with only a few harmless chemicals thrown in (for example, citric acid and table salt).  This statement obscures the fact that this percentage is by weight: the reality is that there are approximately 20 tons of chemicals added to each million gallons of water, and the typical frack job involves 4-7 million gallons of water (Damascus Citizens, "Affirming Gasland" p. 14).
 Furthermore, the list of 15 chemicals in "A Fluid Situation" is far from complete.  In June 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released a list that allegedly contains every chemical that is used in hydro-fracturing operations (DEP, "Chemicals Used by Hydraulic Fracturing Companies").  But even if this list is comprehensive (which some question), the chemicals they do include are alarming.  A few worth mentioning are ethylbenzene, ethylene glycol, glutaraldehyde, isopropanol, and methanol.  According to the Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), many of the chemicals on Pennsylvania's list have been linked to cancer or other health problems (respiratory, reproductive, brain and nervous system, kidneys, immune system, gastrointestinal and liver, endocrine, developmental, cardiovascular, and blood).
 Contaminated Water and Exploding HousesThe natural gas industry would insist that none of this is relevant because the fracking fluid is thousands of feet underground, safely barricaded from aquifers by cement casings.  Energy in Depth's "Frac versus Fiction" claims that opponents of hydro-fracturing have been trying to establish "a credible (and growing) track record of danger.  Unfortunately for them, in hydraulic fracturing they're running up against a technology that in 60 years of service has yet to be credibly tied to the contamination of drinking water."
Unfortunately, this just isn't true.  There have been many incidents of water contamination and even buildings exploding because of natural gas hydro-fracturing operations.  The most common problem is methane migration due to defective casing.  According to the Pittsburgh Geological Society's article "Natural Gas Migration Problems in Western Pennsylvania" methane migration occurs when natural gas escapes "from the reservoir rock, coal seam, pipeline, gas well, or landfill.  If the gas migrates through the bedrock and soil, it can result in an explosion capable of damaging property and causing loss of life." 
  • In April 2004 the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) fined Encana Oil and Gas a record $371,200 for contaminating water supplies in West Divide Creek, Colorado.  COGCC found methane, benzene, toluene, and m,p xylenes in wells, and  blamed Encana  for "inadequate cementing of the well," which "resulted in a loss of well control" (COGGC, "West Divide Creek Gas Seep" (4/14/04), COGCC, "Notice of Hearing" [8/04]).
  • In December 2007 the basement of a home in Bainbridge Township, Ohio exploded.  Fortunately, the owners, Richard and Thelma Payne, who were asleep upstairs, were not injured.  Subsequently, 19 area homes were evacuated because of natural gas.  The Report by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources(9/1/08) concluded that the explosion and contamination was caused by "inadequate cementing of the production casing" by the drilling company, Ohio Valley Energy Systems, which led to migration of natural gas into natural fractures in the bedrock below the drilling casing.
  • In February 2009 Cabot Oil & Gas was responsible for methane contamination of nine water wells in Dimock, Pennsylvania.  Methane built up in the well of Norma Fiorentio and when the pump switched on, it blew up the concrete foundation of the well house  (PA DEP "Notice of Violation" [2/27/09]).  The Pennsylvania DEP has blamed the problems on "defective casing and cementing" (DEP, "DEP Reaches Agreement" [11/04/09]).  On April 15, 2010 the DEP fined Cabot $240,000 for violating the November agreement and suspended their drilling operations in PA until they resolve the Dimock contamination (DEP, "DEP Takes Aggressive Action" [4/15/10]).  Recently, the DEP and Cabot came to a settlement, whereby Cabot will pay $4.1 million to the residents of Dimock and $500,000 to the state to offset the costs associated with investigating this incident.  This settlement does not affect the federal lawsuits that the residents of Dimock have filed, but some residents believe that Cabot is trying to use it to scuttle the lawsuit  (DEP, "Dimock Residents" [12/16/10], dailyreview.com "Dimock Residents" [12/18/10]).
  • In April 2011, the DEP ordered Catalyst Energy to cease all drilling and hydro-fracturing operations in 36 of its non-Marcellus wells in Forest County, PA.  The DEP confirmed that two private water supplies had been contaminated by natural gas migration and elevated levels of iron and manganese (DEP, "DEP Orders Catalyst" [4/4/11]).
  • In May 2011, the DEP fined Chesapeake Energy $900,000 for contaminating wells in Bradford County.  DEP determined that because of improper well casing and cementing in shallow zones, natural gas from non-shale shallow gas formations had experienced localized migration into groundwater and contaminated 16 families’ drinking water supplies (DEP, "DEP Fines Chesapeake" [5/17/11]).
 Despite these incidents, industry representatives continue to insist that hydro-fracturing has never been linked to water contamination.  Energy in Depth's "Frac versus Fiction" concludes about the Bainbridge incident, "Allegations suggesting the Bainbridge incident was caused by hydraulic fracturing are simply not supported by either the facts on the ground or DMRM's report.  Instead, this incident was the direct result of several poor decisions made by the operator."  The industry's attempt to blame "operator error" rather than hydro-fracturing, is like arguing that drunk driving itself isn't dangerous--the accidents associated with drunk driving are due to operator error.  As the record above indicates, operator failure in hydro-fracturing operations is an increasingly common occurrence. 
Another obfuscation by the industry is to separate "hydro-fracturing" from the drilling process.  Since the demonstrated cases of contamination have been from faulty casings, rather than the stage when high pressure is used to fracture the rock, they can claim that "hydro-fracturing" is not to blame.  But of course this distinction is absurd unless there is a way to get the pipes underground without drilling.
The industry also claims that tests have shown that the methane in the water in places like Dimock was biogenic methane, produced near the surface by decaying organic matter, not thermogenic methane from deep layers such as the Marcellus.  They point out that there have been incidents of burning faucets in Dimock even before the gas industry began drilling.  But once again, this is a distortion of the truth.  The initial tests at Dimock "fingerprinted" the problem as biogenic methane.  And there's no question that biogenic methane has been a problem in that area for years.  But the issue isn't what kind of methane--the real question is how did it get in people's water supplies?  A report prepared for the natural gas industry by Reservoir Research, points out that methane migration can occur from either gas or water well drilling.  That report notes, "occasionally, a cement job has an incomplete bond with the walls of the well, and that can be big trouble, because contaminants can then leak into water supplies" (Reservoir Research "Frac Attack," p. 11).  At Dimock, the DEP concluded that the faulty casings allowed the well pressure to push existing biogenic methane into aquifers.  Furthermore, subsequent tests at Dimock have fingerprinted the gas as thermogenic, from the Devonian formation, where the hydro-fracturing is taking place (Damascus Citizens, "Affirming Gasland," p. 8-11).
And methane migration isn't the only problem caused by hydro-fracturing.  To me, the most serious problem--and the one that is impossible to regulate--has been the series of spills and accidents that have spewed chemicals into our streams and forests.
The Pennsylvania Natural Gas Industry Wall of Shame (The industry's violations can be accessed at the DEP's "Marcellus Infractions").

  • On February 2, 2009 Cabot spilled 100 gallons of diesel fuel at Dimock, PA (DEP, "2009 Marcellus Violations--violation #575007"; iStockAnalyist, "Trucking Firm Ordered" [2/24/09]).
  • In May 2009 a leaking waste water pipe from a Range Resources gas well polluted a tributary of Cross Creek Lake in Washington County, PA.  The spill killed fish, salamanders, crayfish, and aquatic insects (Pittsburgh Post Gazette "Waste from Marcellus" [6/05/09]; DEP, "2009 Marcellus Violations--violation #564165";  Range Resouces Report).
  • On October 22, 2009, PA DEP fined Cabot $56,650 for three separate spills of a water/liquid gel mixture into Stevens Creek and a wetland near Dimock, PA.  The spills totaled 8,000 gallons (DEP, "DEP Fines Cabot" [10/22/09]; DEP "2009 Marcellus Violations--violations #572252, 572258").
  • On January 20, 2010 the Pennsylvania DEP fined M.R. Dirt $6000 for spilling 7 tons of "gaswell drilling wastewater sludge" in Avis, PA.  The dump truck driver drove away even though he saw the spill (DEP "DEP Fines M.R. Dirt" [1/20/10]).
  • On February 1, 2010 the Pennsylvania DEP fined Fortuna Energy $3500 for various infractions at a Bradford County site, including the discharge of fracking fluid into a tributary of Sugar Creek (DEP, "DEP Fines Fortuna"  [2/1/10]; DEP "2009 Marcellus Violations--violations #565284-87, 564580-88, 569257-61").
  • On March 15, 2010, a foamy substance, was detected running into Pine Creek, near Waterville.  The DEP has determined that the substance was Airfoam HD, a chemical used in the drilling process.  The substance came from a drilling site run by Pennsylvania General Energy.  Almost a year later, the DEP fined the company $28, 960 (DEP, "DEP Fines"; "2010 Marcellus Violations--violations #583315-38").
  • On March 26th, 2010, Anadarko Petroleum spilled 8,000 to 12,000 gallons of synthetic-based mud at a drilling site in the Sproul State Forest in Clinton County (DEP, "2010 Marcellus Violations--violations #583988, 584932, 584934"; LH Express, "Drilling Mud" [4/9/10]).
  • On March 31, 2010 a site in Washington Country that was being used to collect wastewater by Atlas Energy caught fire (WPXI.com, "Fire Near Hopewell" [3/31/10]).
  • On April 23, 2010, The Pennsylvania DEP fined Stallion Oilfield Services of Canondale, PA $6,500 for operating an illegal fracking water transfer station.  Inspectors found a 450 square foot area where fracking water had spilled onto the ground (DEP, "DEP Fines Stallion" [4/23/10]).
  • On May 13, 2010, PA DEP fined Rex Energy of State College, PA $45,000 for various environmental violations at its Clearfield County site (DEP, "DEP Fines Rex" [5/13/10]; DEP, "2010 Marcellus Violations--violations #595298-99, 583061").
  • On May 14, 1010, PA DEP fined Range Resources $141,175 for spilling 250 barrels of fracking fluid into a high-quality waterway in Washington County in October 2009.  Range failed to report the spill immediately (DEP, "DEP Penalizes Range" [5/14/10]; DEP "2009 Marcellus Violations--violations #573283-4, 574350").
  • On June 15, 2010, Anadarko Petroleum discharged 150 gallons of hydraulic fluid onto the ground at a drilling site in Centre County (DEP, "2010 Marcellus Violations--violations #589566, 589952")
  • On June 3, 2010, a gas well that was being fracked by EOG Resources in Clearfield County experienced a blowout and raged out of control for 16 hours, shooting fracking fluid and gas 75 feet into the air.  EOG, whose spokesperson insisted that protecting the environment is of "utmost importance" to the company, waited five hours before contacting the Department of Environmental Protection (Centre Daily Times, "Gas Spews" [6/4/10]).  The PA DEP has determined that the accident was caused by "untrained personnel and the failure to use proper well control procedures," and they fined EOG and its contractor C.C. Forbes $400,000 (DEP, "Independent Report" [7/13/10] DEP, "2010 Marcellus Violations--violations #589126-31, 589901-02").
  • On July 1, 2010, the PA Department of Agriculture quarantined 28 cows after they came into contact with drilling wastewater from a leaking containment pond that was part of a drilling site operated by East Resources in Tioga County (DEP, "Cattle from Tioga County" [7/1/10]; DEP, "2010 Marcellus Violations--violations #588949-50").
  • On August 2, 2010, the DEP fined Talisman Energy USA $15,506 for spilling 4,200-6,300 gallons of used fracking fluid into an unnamed tributary of the Tioga River in Bradford County (DEP, "DEP Fines Talisman" [8/2/10]; DEP "2009 Marcellus Violations--violations #5777167, 577585-87").
  • On August 17, 2010, the DEP fined Atlas Resources $97,350 for allowing used fracking fluid to overflow a waste water pit and contaminate a tributary of Dunkle Run, a high quality watershed in Washington County.  Atlas failed to report the spill to DEP (DEP, "DEP Fines Atlas" [8/17/10]; DEP "2009 Marcellus Violations--violations #577286-92").
  • On October 7, 2010, the DEP fined Seneca Resources $40,000 for building an illegal impoundment on exceptional value wetlands in Tioga County (DEP, "DEP Fines Seneca" [10/7/10]).
  • On October 25-27, 2010, the Pennsylvania State Police inspected 1175 fracking wastewater trucks as part of Operation FracNet.  They issued 1057 traffic citations, and removed 207 trucks and 52 drivers from service due to safety violations.  Earlier FracNets yielded similar results: in September 959 citations were issued, and 208 trucks and 64 drivers were removed; in June 2010 669 citations were issued, and 250 trucks and 45 drivers were removed.  In March of 2011 731 trucks were inspected: 131 trucks and 14 drivers were removed (PA State Police, "Latest Operation FracNet" [11/09/10]; "State Police Place" [10/6/10]; "State Enforcement Blitz" [6/23/10]; DEP, "131 Trucks").
  • On November 22, 2010, the DEP announced that it was investigating a large spill of hydraulic fracturing fluid at a site run by XTO Energy.  The spill has been estimated to be 4,275 gallons, which contaminated a unnamed tributary of Sugar Run, a spring, and two private wells.  A DEP investigator discovered an open valve that was discharging the fluid from an unattended tank. (DEP, "DEP Investigating" [11/22/10], Williamsport Sun Gazette, "Cleanup Continues" [12/15/10]).
  • On January 6, 2011, the DEP fined Talisman Energy $24,608 for a "large diesel fuel spill" in Bradford County (DEP "DEP Fines Talisman" [1/6/11]).
  • On January 7, 2011, the DEP fined Chief Oil & Gas $34,000 for illegally discharging 25,200 gallons of hydrostatic testing water at a pipeline project in Lycoming County.  Chief also allowed "an unknown industrial waste" to mix with the water before it was discharged (DEP, "Chief Oil and Gas" [1/7/11]).
  • On January 10, 2011, Minuteman Environmental Services was fined $7000 for illegally dumping and storing natural gas drill cutting waste at two sites in Clinton and Union counties (DEP, "DEP Announced" [1/10/11]).
  • On January 17, 2011, a well operated by Talisman Energy blew out and for several hours discharged sand and fracking fluid into state forest lands in Tioga County (timestribune.com, "Talisman Cited" [1/26/11]).
  • On January 29, 2011, a truck carrying used fracking fluid from a well operated by Anadarko Petroleum, rolled off the road and spilled "a small amount" of fracking fluid above the headwaters of the South Renovo water supply in Clinton County (LH Express, "Frac Water Truck" [2/1/11]).  On February 18, 2011, a truck serving another Anadarko well in Clinton County crashed and spilled 3400 gallons of used fracking fluid into the yard of a private residence (LH Express, "3,400 Gallons" [2/22/11].
  • On February 23, 2011, three condensate separator tanks at a Chesapeake site in Washington County caught fire, injuring three subcontractors.  Chesapeake was later fined $188,000 for improper handling and management of condensate (DEP "DEP Continues" [2/25/11], "DEP Fines Chesapeake" [5/17/11], photo at upstreamonline, "Blast at Chesapeake Site" [2/24/11]).
  • On March 23, 2010, the DEP shut down Chesapeake's operations at a well pad in Potter County.  Chesapeake failed to implement erosion and sediment controls, resulting in sediment/silt discharges into a tributary of the Galeton Borough Water Authority (DEP, "DEP Shuts Down" [3/23/11]).
  • On June 28, 2011, the DEP fined Chief Oil & Gas $180,000 for a hydraulic oil spill and an improperly maintained drilling pit at a well in Somerset County (DEP, "DEP Fines Chief" [6/28/11].
  • On July 29, August 2, and August 10, Laser Northeast Gathering Company spilled 1500 gallons of drilling mud into Laurel Lake Creek in Susquehanna County as they attempted to construct a natural gas pipeline (pressconnects.com, "1500 Gallons" [8/10/11]).
Supporters of the gas industry often claim that we have nothing to fear from the big, reputable companies.  But, the incidents listed above were caused by Cabot, Range Resources, Anadarko, Chesapeake, East Resources, Talisman, Fortuna.  Who's left?

Studying the Studies 
The natural gas industry often cites studies that affirm that hydro-fracturing is safe (Energy in Depth "Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids").  However, closer analysis reveals that these studies have been tainted by the industry. 
The Environmental Protection Agency's 2004 report concluded that hydro-fracturing "poses little or no threat to drinking water" ("Conclusions" p. 7-5).  However, the report did recognize that "natural fractures, and poorly constructed, sealed, or cemented wells used for various purposes, may provide conduits for methane to move into shallow geologic strata and water wells, or even to surface water" ("Conclusions" p. 7-2).  Even more troubling are allegations that the report was heavily influenced by the natural gas industry (Earthworks, "Inadequate Regulation").  Weston Wilson, an environmental engineer who worked for EPA, has claimed that "EPA's conclusions are unsupportable. EPA has conducted limited research reaching the unsupported conclusion that this industry practice needs no further study at this time. EPA decisions were supported by a Peer Review Panel; however five of the seven members of this panel appear to have conflicts-of-interest and may benefit from EPA's decision not to conduct further investigation or impose regulatory conditions" (Earthworks "Letter from EPA Fracking Study Whistleblower" [10/08/04]). In March of 2010, the EPA announced that it will be conducting a new study on the effects of hydro-fracturing (EPA, "EPA Initiates" [3/18/10])
Even more compromised is the April 2009 report of the Groundwater Protection Council.  Their report concludes, "Hydraulic fracturing has been a key technology in making shale gas an affordable addition to the Nation's energy supply, and the technology has proven to be a safe and effective stimulation technique" (GPC, "Modern Shale Gas" p. 76).  However, they are far from objective.  The organization's original purpose was "to develop a strong public outreach/education program to inform the public about the safety of the national [Underground Injection Control] program and to develop information that could be used by the states to enhance this effort" ("Organizational Description").  In other words, they are organized to promote hydro-fracturing.  As a nonprofit 501, the GPC has also been busy with lobbying efforts, spending between $10-60 thousand per year since 1998 (Open Secrets, "GPC").
And finally, there is "An Emerging Giant," a study from Penn State that touts the economic benefits of hydro-fracturing.  The study was funded by the Marcellus Shale Gas Committee, a group of natural gas companies.  Some versions of the study, including the one available on the PA Marcellus website, fail to mention the funding source.  See the Responsible Drilling Alliance's "Lies and Broken Promises" for an excellent analysis of the problems with this study.
You might recall the studies financed by the tobacco industry that claimed that cigarette smoking was not harmful.
Recently, the gas companies have been savagely attacking Calvin Tillman, the mayor of Dish, TX, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the industry.  They often cite reports that allegedly clear the industry of any wrongdoing.  However, the concluding paragraph of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality report reads:  "Although the results are complex, it is clear that gas production facilities can, and in some cases do, emit contaminants in amounts that could be deemed unsafe for life-time (70 years) or long-term exposureHowever, at only two monitoring sites were benzene levels found that would trigger immediate actions to reduce emissions" (TCEQ Report).  Nineteen other sites of the 94 studied showed higher than normal benzine, and demanded further monitoring.  The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) found that a number of volatile organic compounds were detected in some of the 28 blood samples that were collected.  However, the DSHS report refused to link them to the gas drilling industry because the compounds could be attributed to other causes, such as smoking (DSHS Report).  On Mr. Tillman's website he carefully details the problems with DSHS study.

I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself 
Allow me to conclude with a summary of the risks of hydro-fracturing by someone who should know.  In May 2006, Range Resources Corporation, the biggest hydro-fracturing company in Pennsylvania, provided the SEC with a prospectus.  In a surprisingly forthright moment, Range Resources explained to potential investors the risks of hydro-fracturing: "Our business is subject to operating hazards and environmental regulations that could result in substantial losses or liabilities.  Oil and natural gas operations are subject to many risks, including well blowouts, craterings, explosions, uncontrollable flows of oil, natural gas or well fluids, fires, formations with abnormal pressures, pipeline ruptures or spills, pollution, releases of toxic natural gas and other environmental hazards and risks. If any of these hazards occur, we could sustain substantial losses as a result of:
  • Injury or loss of life;
  • Severe damage to our destruction of property, natural resources and equipment;
  • Pollution or other environmental damage;
  • Clean-up responsibilities;
  • Regulatory investigations and penalties; or
  • Suspension of operations.
As we begin drilling to deeper horizons and in more geologically complex areas, we could experience a greater increase in operating and financial risks due to inherent higher reservoir pressures and unknown downhole risk exposures" (Range Resources "Prospectus" p. S-13 [5/18/06]).

What Can You Do? 
If you are convinced that the drilling in the Marcellus Shale is indeed a major threat to the environment of central Pennsylvania, please contact your elected officials and express your support for increased protection of our state's resources.  I think that hunting and fishing groups would be an especially powerful voice in this debate.  Actions that lawmakers might take include the following:
  1. Ban any additional hydro-fracturing on state forest land.  In 2008 the Pennsylvania Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources opened up 75,000 acres of the state forest to natural gas drilling (DCNR "D CNR Issues Balance Approach" [4/01/08]).  As part of the 2009-10 budget, 32,000 acres of the state forest were leased, generating $128 million, twice what was expected (DCNR, "Results of FY09-10 Lease").  In May, 2010, the House passed House Bill 2235 (introduced by Rep. Greg Vitali) that imposes a 3-year moratorium on additional leasing (PennLive, "Moratorium").  Not surprisingly, the Republican-controlled Senate has not acted on the bill.  This would be a good time to write your senators and tell them that you support this bill.  Pennsylvania hunters, anglers, and environmentalists need to become politically active and vote out those legislators who have demonstrated their opposition to the preservation and protection of the woods and waters of our state.  Unfortunately, we have just elected a governor, Tom Corbett, who has vowed to lift the moratorium that the current governor, Ed Rendell imposed in the final two months of his term.
  2. Impose a severance tax on natural-gas extraction I am less excited by this measure because it implies that as long as we can profit from hydro-fracturing, it's acceptable for it to continue.  Nevertheless, it would provide some funds to repair the damage to the infrastructure caused by the natural gas industry (PA Budget & Policy Center "Severance Tax" [5/27/09]), and it represents an alternative to a massive increase in state forest leases. 
To contact your elected officials, use the links below (if you are uncertain who your state legislators are, go to the Find Your Legislator Page):
For More Information on Hydro-fracturing:
  • Aerial Photographs of Marcellus Shale Drilling in the Pennsylvania State Forest.  Photgraphs by Dick Martin of www.PAForestCoalition.org.  If you haven't joined the PAForestCoalition, please do so--Mr. Martin does an outstanding job of keeping the members informed of issues affecting hunters, anglers, and hikers.
  • un-naturalgas.org: An excellent overview that is a project of CDOG - Chenango Delaware Otsego Gas Drilling Opposition Group.
  • EARTHWORKS--Hydraulic Fracturing of Oil and Gas Wells: EARTHWORKS is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the destructive impacts of mineral development, in the U.S. and worldwide.  This site offers much useful information about the threats to water quality and the inadequate regulation of hydraulic fracturing.  Especially useful is their free publication, Oil & Gas at Your Door?  A Landowner's Guide to Oil and Gas Development .
  • The Responsible Drilling Alliance: An all-volunteer, non-profit organization devoted to understanding the issues raised by gas drilling in the Marcellus shale. RDA advocates for best management practices and regulations needed to protect health, environment, and preserve our wonderful rural way of life.
  • Marcellus-Shale.us:  This site is "dedicated to providing photos, facts, opinions, stories and news about the Marcellus Shale gas play that you won't see other places. You'll find extensive photos of gas drilling sites, pipeline construction, well sites and compressor stations."  The pictures of spills are especially important.
  • Damascus Citizens for Sustainability: A grassroots organization that has been in the forefront of recognizing and protesting against the hazards of oil/gas drilling in the upper Delaware River valley. According to the site, "Overwhelming evidence and much science now exists that the type of gas drilling proposed for this region - made possible by total federal deregulation--is a danger to the public health, causes contaminated drinking water, carcinogens in the farmland and food chain, torn-up roads, air pollution, plummeting home values, and noise pollution."
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection--Marcellus Shale: A collection of links to FAQs, maps, industry resources, and agency contacts. 
  • The Susquehanna River Basin Commission--Marcellus Projects: In addition to information on regulations, and presentations by the SRBC on Marcellus drilling, this site includes a list of approved requests by the gas companies for consumptive water use (in millions of gallons/day).
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources--Marcellus FAQs: A few FAQs on the Marcellus.  See also DCNR--Oil & Gas on State Forest Lands, which contains their position statements on why they have allowed drilling on state forest lands.
  • The Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club: The SC's position on natural gas is as follows: "When compared to oil, natural gas may be cleaner and more accessible, but the extraction of natural gas causes many of the same problems as the extraction of any other fossil fuel.  The Sierra Club supports natural gas that is extracted in an environmentally acceptable fashion, but in Pennsylvania, the extraction and delivery of natural gas produces a number of environmentally unacceptable side effects, many of which affect public lands and may simply prolong our expensive and destructive dependence on fossil fuels."
  • Trout Unlimited:  TU's mission is "to conserve, protect and restore North America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds."  The Winter 2009 issue ofTrout features the article "Fractured Landscape," by Morgan Lyle, which notes that "Trout Unlimited is working at the state and national level to help assure that valuable trout resources in the Northeast are protected from the Marcellus Shale Development."
  • Penn State Cooperative Extension--Natural Gas Impacts: An excellent site with much useful information for landowners, local government, businesses, and the general public.
  • Green Party of Pennsylvania Position Paper on the Marcellus Shale: The Green Party of Pennsylvania "believes that despite the apparent short-term economic benefits, Marcellus Shale gas drilling will have a net negative economic and environmental impact for Pennsylvania."
  • Energy Justice Network--Natural Gas Health and Environmental Hazards: "Natural gas is a fossil fuel that is often promoted as "cleaner" than coal, but which has its own serious environmental hazards."
  • Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition: " The Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to informing the citizens of Luzerne County about natural gas drilling."
  • My letter to the editor "My Range Resources" with documentation.
  • My letter to the editor "The Myth of Responsible Drilling (Anadarko's Record)" with documentation.
Last updated by Robert Myers on 26 September 2011.

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