Policy Documents

Science and the Reasonable Development of Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Resources in Pennsylvania and New York

Lynn Kerr McKay, Ralph H. Johnson, and Laurie Alberts Salita –
July 1, 2011

A fair amount of controversy concerning the development of natural gas resources in the Marcellus Shale formation has accompanied the return of significant oil and gas exploration and production to Pennsylvania. One need only look at the news headlines and legislative and regulatory dockets to appreciate the diversity of issues and positions on those issues related to the Marcellus Shale region. A growing number of lawsuits and media reports give the impression that Marcellus Shale drilling and production operations – especially the process known as hydraulic fracturing – are indisputably harmful to both the environment and to those who live in the vicinity of the wells. Lawmakers and regulators have introduced myriad measures imposing additional oversight and operational requirements on Marcellus Shale producers. The economic, environmental, and human impact of such measures will be significant – which is exactly why unbiased and informed scientific evaluation of the potential link between Marcellus Shale production activities and environmental and health concerns is essential to appropriate judicial and regulatory decisions. The success of efforts to explore and develop Marcellus Shale natural gas resources requires continued critical and scientific evaluation of information concerning all aspects of the enterprise.