While the U.S. economy continues to reel from the fallout from the global financial crisis, there's a boom on in the gas industry wanting access to Appalachian areas underlain by the Marcellus Shale deposits. The gas-industry boom has environmentalists and many residents worried about the environmental impacts. To make gas production profitable, the industry employs a practice referred to as fracking, pumping large volumes of water, sand and a mix of chemicals down drill holes to fracture the rock formations and increase the volume of accessible gas.
While the Safe Drinking Water Act notionally protects water supplies, the gas industry is the only industry excluded from the scope of the legislation. Nor do many state government's regulate fracking practices. (A useful collection of articles on the issue has been published by the non-profit journalism group, ProPublica).
Right now, the issue is politically hot. Last week the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a resolution requesting the Environmental Protection Agency re-examine the potential impact of fracking on water quality. While companies are busy hyping their involvement in Marcellus Shale projects, citizens groups are mobilizing to express their concerns about both fracking practices and gas production more generally.
You can help document the environmental and other issues involved with the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale by helping building the SourceWatch article on the issue. See SourceWatch:Project:Documenting environmental and other issues with the exploitation of Marcellus Shale on our collaborative SourceWatch encyclopedia for more details. If you have never added material to SourceWatch before, don't worry! Our regular editors are at hand to help get you started.
Bob Burton is the Managing Editor of SourceWatch.