The Marcellus Shale Play essays

Large amounts of natural gas have recently been found in Appalachia, making the process of drilling for fuel more profitable at a time when gas prices are competitive and worth the price of manpower.
The Marcellus Shale Play stretches across an area of 95,000 square miles from southern New York across Pennsylvania, into western Maryland, West Virginia, and eastern Ohio. While formed in the Appalachian Basin over 300 million years ago, the Marcellus Shale Play has recently become an economically viable source of natural gas due to technological advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, as well as relatively high natural gas prices. Higginbotham 2
The process is relatively straightforward: a drill passes through several layers of crust until it reaches the shale beds holding natural gas, the shale is drilled into horizontally, a shock is sent to fracture the rock which is then flushed with the fracturing fluid (water, several chemicals, and sand) to widen & extend fractures at which point the gas is collected and stored, refined, and transported. Tens of thousands of jobs have been created in as many as 30 states as a result of this boom in hydraulic fracturing.
According to Higginbotham's research, in 2008 14,466 people were employed in various parts of the extraction process while West Virginia employed 10,582 (6). America is a proud country, so it is hardly a surprise that these untapped natural gas resources are being embraced by the government. What could be wrong with this process? It means less imported gas, more American sourced fuel, and, perhaps most important in our current economic situation, it creates a huge amount of jobs, particularly in poorer areas of the country.
There is a downside, however. What happens to the mixture of water and chemicals that gets pumped into drilling sites? That water has to go somewhere. In his documentary, “Gasland”, Josh Fox speculates the volume of water an…

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