Currently one of the largest environmental issues in the United States is the debate on drilling for Natural Gas. This debate has hit close to home as well, as the city of Pittsburgh and the surrounding area sits along one of the largest natural gas filled rock formations in the country, the Marcellus Shale.
By using high-pressured water drills to draw the natural gas to the surface of these large rock formations, also known as “fracking,” companies hope to be able to extract a sizeable amount of natural gas and petroleum from the ground, which would be much cheaper than extracting such materials from other countries. The energy industry hopes to be able to benefit from this natural gas, by using it to help run power to large cities, such as Pittsburgh.
There is a sizeable contingency of people who believe that fracking is a danger to the environment. These include issues with contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, and issues with spills and contamination of soil. Countries such as France have banned the practice of fracking, while numerous other countries have regulated the act to try and limit the issues which the drilling has on the land.
In Pennsylvania, there are currently over 6,300 active wells along the Marcellus Shale, with thirty wells in Allegheny County alone. Since drilling started in 2010, there have been over 3,300 drilling violations throughout Pennsylvania, racking up over three million dollars in fines for the drilling companies. Overall, whether the benefits of fracking outweigh the dangers or not, the fracking of the Marcellus Shale in the Pittsburgh region and across Pennsylvania is something that seems to be a large operation for some time to come.
What is your stance on the fracking of the Marcellus Shale? Is it harmful to the environment or is it a benefit to energy companies?
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