[GOOGLE MAP OF ACTIVE/PLUGGED WELLS IN NORTHEAST PA AND NEW YORK STATE]
In the last couple years or so, the natural gas industry has approached northeast Pennsylvania landholders with properties atop the great undulating belts of the Marcellus Shale geological formation, asking for mineral rights access to the vast sea of gas that lay beneath it. In what some have called a “modern-day gold rush”, companies are offering seemingly sweet deals to landowners in Pennsylvania and New York in order to expand the port owners have signed over long-term access rights to their properties to allow what gas companies refer to as a minimally invasive exploratory drilling. If geoscientists determine that gas of good quality and content is accessible, the firm engaged will pay the owner for a portion of the extracted gas and will construct a connection to the national system of natural gas pipelines.
[NATURAL GAS NATIONAL PIPELINE SYSTEM]
It’s the process of extraction that folks like Josh Fox concerned. Fox, originally of Milanville, PA has chronicled the public health, social, and environmental hazards of natural gas drilling in his documentary The Rage of Nature, Specifically, the film raises alarm over the standard practice of hydraulic fracturing: “like hitting the side of a soda bottle, the gas just flows to the top” except the “hitting” involves injecting over 247 chemical mixed with water 1000′ feet into the earth. Many if not all of these chemicals are carcinogenic, endocrine disruptors, mutagens, or disrupt other bodily functions. Each time a well is “fracked” 1-5 million gallons of water is needed. While sometimes the water table is below the deposit being “fracked” sometimes it is not and the fracturing solution or gas can make its way into the water table and individual wells. In some places in Pennsylvania it already has. And natural gas companies are trying to deflect the growing doubts. While thousands of wells have been drilled in the sparsely populated west, natural gas companies are looking to expand their output by moving east into the Marcellus Shale region–perhaps the largest untapped district of natural gas in the country. They propose 50,000 gas wells along a 75 mile stretch of the Delaware River. Of course we don’t need to be told what’s downstream of the Delaware.
[MARCELLUS SHALE DEPOSIT]