Fracking in Pennsylvania

Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania

Marcellus Shale is a kind of sedimentary rock formation found throughout Pennsylvania’s northeast that contains vast amounts of natural gas. A large portion of the state sits atop huge formations of Marcellus Shale, which makes areas such as the Pennsylvania Wilds ripe for natural gas extraction via fracking.

The prospect of being paid large sums of money for land and mineral rights, especially in a harsh economy, is all too appealing for many landowners throughout Pennsylvania.

The fracking industry has flourished throughout Pennsylvania in the past couple of years, and Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction shows no signs of stopping.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, over 6000 wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania in the past four years alone. Experts project that over 60,000 wells will be drilled by 2030.

Why Should We Be Concerned About Fracking

Without a doubt, fracking is an efficient method of obtaining energy sources that are becoming more and more valuable in today’s world. However, even though fracking has been argued as a safe and clean extraction technique, there are several possible dangers that fracking may pose to the environment.

Speaking in generalities, research suggests that fracking may be responsible for contaminating water supplies, polluting the air, and causing earthquakes.

Fracking can release various unsavory compounds into the air, including benzene, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide – none of which are good things to expose humans to.

Fracking has also been linked to causing seismic activity, inducing earthquakes in areas where fracking is very prevalent but earthquakes certainly are not. But overall, the biggest worry related to fracking is concerned with water contamination.

Given that fracking fluid is used in such high volumes throughout the fracking process, it isn’t hard to imagine why the public might be worried about the effects that fracking might have on the environment.

Fracking fluid can potentially drain or leak off into water supplies, as well as into streams, rivers, and lakes. There have also been several documented fracking fluid spills, such as a 2011 incident where EOG Resources Inc. spilled chemicals into Little Laurel Run.

Little Laurel Run

Scientists studied Little Laurel Run, and based on a few simple tests, they found that it was significantly impacted – the waters had a pH of 4.93. In total, there have been reported many violations committed by fracking companies, a total number of 3331 violations across 6391 active wells since 2009.

Fracking companies are not required by federal law to disclose what chemicals are used in fracking fluid since fracking is exempt from certain requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

However, certain states (including Pennsylvania) have instated various regulations requiring companies to disclose what chemicals they’re using – but these companies are still allowed to claim “trade secrets” so that they don’t have to release information about certain chemicals that they use and the accidents caused by, for example, the trucks used in this line of industry.

So, all in all, you can see why the potential impacts of fracking are worth looking into. Hopefully, this post cleared up some confusion that some people might have.

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