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Marcellus Shale Blog

2/3/2011 12:38 PM

It's interesting how an issue like Marcellus Shale can bring together so many voices on either side of the issue. 
You have environmentalists, who are worried about the potential environmental impacts gas drilling will have on the state's water supply.
Then you have the supporters of gas drilling, who feel the economic incentives of drilling is worth taking the environmental risks.
Farmers are caught somewhere in the middle. They like the lease payments and royalties paid to them by gas companies. At this year's Pennsylvania Farm Show, former Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff commented on how some farmers have been able to save their farms as a result of the extra income from their gas wells. 
Others, though, worry about the potential impact gas wells will have on their farms.
But there are many other voices out there, clamoring to get attention.
That was evident by a pair of meetings held in New Holland and Carlisle this week — two communities at least two hours from the closest Marcellus Shale gas well.
The Trinity Lutheran Church in New Holland gave a presentation on Marcellus Shale with a "faith-based perspective."
Meanwhile at Dickinson College, a discussion was held on the potential impacts that shale drilling could have on sustainable farming methods.
While each presentation had a different message, it is clear that even though shale drilling is happening in certain areas of the state, this is a statewide issue, with some of the loudest detractors of shale drilling located hours away from the action.
Take the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, two organizations that this week filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging proposed gas drilling in the Delaware River basin.
The Philadelphia City Council even got in the act recently by passing a unanimous bill, calling for a moratorium on gas drilling in the Delaware River basin. The city gets most of its fresh water from areas within the basin.
In fact, much of the state's fresh water supplies comes from northern Pennsylvania. Many of the rivers and streams in the northern tier drain into the Susquehanna River, which eventually drains into the Chesapeake Bay. Does anyone need reminded of the environmental issues surrounding the bay?
And news this week that oil and natural gas companies may have violated state and federal laws by not asking for permission to use millions of gallons of diesel fuel in fracking operations will surely stoke the fire of gas drilling detractors.
It's hard to tell what all of this will eventually lead to. Gov. Tom Corbett has made it clear that he supports natural gas drilling. And he has a lot of support within the state's legislature — both caucuses are controlled by fellow Republicans — to get legislation favorable to gas drilling companies passed.
But with so many detractors out there, could it be possible that future legislation comes from leaders in Lancaster County, Dauphin County and perhaps even Philadelphia.
It begs the question: Will the voices of the people in the communities directly impacted by gas drilling be heard?

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