- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Geologists have discovered a vast underground area in the Northeast that holds natural gas. The area is dubbed it the Marcellus Shale region. The dense rock formation lies within the borders of Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio. It is estimated that the formation holds enough gas to supply the entire East Coast region for at least the next 50 years. Natural gas is considered a clean alternative energy source.
To free the gas resource, drillers employ a technique of fracturing the rock formations. This technique has been practiced for over 60 years and is called “fracking” in the industry. According to Lee Fuller, director of the industry coalition, Energy in Depth, multiple studies have consistently shown that the risks are well managed and the process is safe. In fact, six years ago, the EPA declared that fracking posed very little threat to underground sources of drinking water. Just one year later, the Congress exempted the practice from regulation.
However, mostly due to the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, conservation groups are demanding that it be studied again. They are lobbying to place a moratorium on fracking the Marcellus Shale formation in order to protect the groundwater.
Congress has asked the EPA to re-examine previous studies as they want to respond to allegations that the 2004 study conclusion was not scientifically supported and it was politically tainted. According to the EPA website (www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/wells_hydrofrac.html), the agency agrees with Congress that there are serious concerns. One of the major concerns is the potential release of radon, a recognized cancer-causing chemical. Money has been set aside and studies will be conducted for the next few years. They expect to be able to release results by 2012.