Living on the Marcellus Shale


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Quite frankly, living on the Marcellus Shale sucks. Over the past few years, my town has seen a dramatic increase in loud trucks, idiotic drivers from out-of-state, inconveniences right and left, and ruined landscape. These are just a few side effects of what is known as "fracking," or the process by which natural gas is retrieved.

After seeing a classmate's blog about fracking, which hit very close to home, I decided to delve further into the topic. For those who don't know, the Marcellus Shale is a large expanse of sedimentary rock that stretches across parts of the northeastern United States, especially northeastern Pennsylvania (where I live) and New York's southern tier. Based on that description, you're probably thinking, "...and? So what?" What's "special" about the Marcellus Shale is that it contains large supplies of natural gas, which has remained untouched for years. Basically, my whole town is on top of extremely valuable oil and we all sit around twiddling our thumbs and hoping we'll make like the Clampetts and next thing you know, ol' Jed's a millionaire and we load up the truck and move to Beverly (Hills, that is. Swimming pools, movie stars....if you don't get this run-on sentence that I call a joke then I'm terribly sorry and you're probably very lost. Anyway...)
It's impossible to argue that increasing our available supply of natural gas is a negative thing. I'm not saying fracking is completely awful; it has provided many jobs and increased business within our small community from nearly every aspect of the industry. And, as Tom Mallouk mentioned last week in class, oil will never run out in our lifetimes (so long as we make the effort to extract it). On the contrary, fracking has also had a negative impact on my community. In 2010, a documentary entitled Gasland made its debut. The film featured friends from my high school and town that had been impacted by the fracking. At the time, one of the main concerns was contaminated water. People near me had dirty water, filled with mud, minerals, and methane. Yeah, METHANE. Not to mention air pollution and the fact that they seem look at us as a bunch of simple-minded hicks (yeah, I know I quoted The Beverly Hillbillies like two seconds ago). On a slightly less serious and more stereotypical note: these people are awful drivers. They can't make a turn, they can't keep up with the flow of traffic, their trucks ruin the road, which leads to lengthy construction, and essentially they just make getting anywhere a huge hassle (and I mean ANYWHERE). I also live in a large farming community, where disturbances to the landscape and ecosystem can actually impact the livelihood of my neighbors. While that may be more of a long-term effect, it's entirely plausible to think that this will happen. When farms go out of business and the gas industry has moved out, what jobs will be left? The benefits now may only increase the costs down the road.

Don't get me wrong; I'm clearly not saying that fracking is entirely bad. Obviously we need gas as our main source of energy until something better comes along and the boom of new jobs has been great for my town. However, the manner in which the process is conducted is highly inefficient and has left me, as well as many others in my community, concerned for the future and frustrated in the present.

2 Comments

Wow, I loved reading that article! Not only was it informational for myself, but quite entertaining to read as well (and I gotta say, that happens rarely with me and science). You brought up excellent points as to why Fracking is both good and bad! You also came at an interesting angle to Fracking, considering you are a citizen of the town where it is taking place. My proposal is that you and your neighbors should take a stand on this issue, because you don't want the damage to go far beyond repair. Speak with the city council! Or make a petition! Because it is you, the citizens, who will always live in that town and may permanently suffer. I looked up both the goods and bads of Fracking that could help argue your case!

http://youngpetro.org/2013/05/06/the-pros-and-cons-of-fracking/?doing_wp_cron=1381893079.3598780632019042968750

You spoke about methane mixed in the water table. According to me its one of the most dangerous part of fracking and shale oil. It has the potential to ruin the water supply to thousands of communities. I studied about fracking in one of my classes and saw videos made my Canadian Petroleum Producers association describing how fracking is absolutely safe and the number of precautions they take to make sure the water tables and the pipelines do not get mixed with the wells drilled. Yet i do not understand how inspite of these supposed precautions there are cases where water tables get contaminated. I think the most worrisome part is yet to come when shale gas drilling begins in China. North China has huge deposits of Shale Gas and it is also one of the most water stressed regions in the world. Fracking naturally requires huge amount of water, I wonder the stress it will put on resources of this planet and the stress it already is putting on the resources of this planet through projects like Three-gorges Damn and the North-South water connectivity project. I think we need to look into this before deciding if we want to base our future on this kind of drilling. http://journalistsresource.org/studies/environment/energy/fracking-shale-gas-health-effects-research-roundup

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