Marcellus Shale and Ethics

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Overall, I think the biggest concern that I have is that these farmers are certainly enticed by the increased funds coming into their region, allowing them to rebuild their farms and regain profitability. Especially since some of these farmers are much smaller in scale and likely very financially challenged, it may be harder for them to weigh potential environmental impact with financial gain for them, their family and even their community as a whole. The drilling does appear to be reviving growth and attempting to manage risk while aiding in the community's common interest, but I worry about the balance between concern for the environment vs. economic gain.

However, it is promising to learn that Penn State's MCOR received a grant to study the drilling over a 3-year period, "to identify and mitigate the effects of Marcellus Shale natural gas exploration and development on the forest ecosystem" and monitor the project to "reduce the disturbance footprint," according to MCOR's website. That shows a commitment to analyzing and hopefully reducing the environmental impact of the project.

As far as the principles from Our Common Future are concerned, I think the project's organizers have done a good job reviving growth in the region. As I mentioned above, the area is certainly experiencing economic benefits of this project, however, Brian Snyder was quoted in the interview as indicating many of the farmers in the region will not receive the financial gain and will be stuck with the cleanup. This is counter-productive in the common interest category, as it would appear some gain at the expense of others' losses - not an equitable situation. From the information I read on the Penn State MCOR site, it appears the risk will be fairly well managed, with an independent team analyzing the impact. In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection clearly outlines the regulations and processes the drilling company must abide by and follow. There are checks and balances in place to ensure the drilling is regulated. The one principle that I have identified as causing concern to me, as listed above, is the merging of environmental concerns and economic gains in decision making. I fear the economic gain may outweigh concerns about environmental impact.

Overall, however, it does seem that the right groups have been involved in the development of this project, and that the local landowners and farmers have had a chance to voice their opinions and concerns. As long as the project continues to be monitored, it seems to be beneficially economically without being detrimental environmentally.

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