>Drilling for Marcellus Shale– What are the Consequences?


(By Matt Connolly)
Marcellus Shale, a sedimentary rock comprised of untapped natural gas reserves, has been accumulating approximately 7,000-10,000 ft. below the earth’s crust for over 300 million years. Only recently, however, drilling companies intent on securing the precious resource have been offering landowners high prices for the right to drill on their land. But is drilling so deep beneath the earth’s crust safe for the environment?
Drilling companies depend on a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a method of directional drilling that allows access to deposits of deep shale from a horizontal position. Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of water and sand and sometimes up to 600 different chemicals into a well at high pressure in order to fracture shale deposits and facilitate natural gas flow through fissures in the rock. Drilling companies of the natural gas industry are not required by law to disclose the chemicals they use in the drilling process. However, scientists have found compounds such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene near well sites. These compounds are classified as VOCs or volatile organic compounds, and pose threats to drinking water supplies. Wastewater polluted with VOCs is constantly evaporating as drilling takes place, mixing with diesel exhaust from trucks and generators; together, the VOCs and diesel exhaust form ozone plumes that pollute the air and can travel over 200 miles.
Gas wells have sprung up throughout Pennsylvania and Southeastern New York, and companies continue to secure drilling locations dangerously close to Delaware River and the Catskill Watershed, the main provider of New York City’s drinking water. The government has not addressed the potential harms involved in drilling for natural gas. While natural gas is important for our energy needs, we must ensure that the way we reach shale deposits does not have a negative effect on the environment and human health. 
Filmmaker Josh Fox spent some time traveling around the U.S. to document the effects of drilling on everyday citizens and the environment. He has captured his interesting and shocking experiences in his documentary “Gasland,” winner of the Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival:
“When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND.”
Visit Catskill Mountain Keeper’s website for information on drilling in the Catskill region:

One response to this post.

  1. […] This post was originally published by BulidingGreen.com on March 8th. It is a great update from a post we wrote a few months ago on the same […]


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