Understanding the Marcellus Shale Debate
The Marcellus Shale is a layer of subterranean rock that curves from West Virginia, through Ohio, to Pennsylvania, and ending in the southern part of New York. The shale contains large quantities of natural gas, but also overlaps with the western part of New York City’s watershed. The gas would be accessed via hydraulic fracturing technology that blasts millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals into the rock to release the gas trapped within it. This is of great concern for New York City and the state of New York because any accidental leaks during the fracturing process could threaten public health and pollute the drinking water. Additionally contamination could happen through the creation of wells, roads, and pipelines necessary for fracturing, not to mention during the transfer of fracturing fluids to and from the drilling site. Meanwhile, the decision whether or not to drill is complicated by the fact that natural gas is one of the cleanest burning fuels as well as an energy supply that requires the least amount of water to produce.
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