October 16 2013

Draining the Earth: Natural Gas Drilling an Issue for Pittsburgh

Bates Natural Gas Plant, Texas

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.

Natural Gas Plant, Indiana

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?

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

Greg Shermeto

Greg Shermeto is a recent graduate at the State University of New York at Buffalo with a B.A. in Environmental Design. While studying, Greg worked on projects including the South Buffalo Trolley and Trail System, which helped to connect the Western New York Railway Historical Society’s railroad museum to the downtown corridor. He has also worked for the University at Buffalo’s Center for Urban Studies, where Greg assisted with the redevelopment of the Perry Choice neighborhood in downtown Buffalo. Greg also spent a semester studying the built environment of the Baltic States in Estonia and Latvia. Greg’s interests include transportation planning and community design, and the efforts to make urban areas accessible and functional for the future. For the Grid, Greg will be writing about planning issues and topics about the city of Pittsburgh, where he currently resides.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 at 9:33 am and is filed under Energy, Environment, Environmental Design, Environmental Non-Profit, Infrastructure, Land Use. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “Draining the Earth: Natural Gas Drilling an Issue for Pittsburgh”

  1. Abbey Seitz Says:

    Awesome article! I was just in Pittsburgh for the Power Shift conference and I am really excited for what Pittsburgh is doing to halt fracking

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