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About Marcellus Shale Drilling
The Marcellus Shale contains the largest natural gas deposit in North America and the second-largest in the world. Most experts agree that the Marcellus Shale contains 250 to 500 trillion cubic feet of extractable natural gas, an amount that could serve domestic needs for over 10 years at current levels of United States demand.
Historically, far more readily accessible “non-associated” natural gas sources, such as natural gas fields, have been the focus of drilling production. But recent advances in drilling techniques have allowed production companies to profitably invest in the extraction of natural gas from “unconventional sources” such as the Marcellus Shale, which is a layer of shale rock between 4,000 and 8,000 feet underneath Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, and Ohio.
Pennsylvania sits on top of the Marcellus Shale, one of the world’s largest deposits of natural gas. Estimates vary, but it’s possible that there is $1 trillion worth of gas beneath the ground. With that kind of money at stake, out of state drilling companies are flocking to Pennsylvania and so are their lobbyists.
When asked to put in place a temporary moratorium on drilling in public lands until a full study of the impact could be made, those who voted “no” had accepted an average of three times as much cash from gas interests than those who supported that reasonable measure.
As the spill in the Gulf has shown, drilling is a risky business with real consequences. Passing laws to ensure safety, to hire regulators, to protect drinking water and to set aside funds for emergency clean up is the responsible thing to do. Growing political spending from gas lobbyists is blocking the way to that responsible regulation.
In order to prevent the Pennsylvania legislature from creating reasonable taxation measures and necessary safety rules, the drilling industry has made more than $4 million in political contributions to Pennsylvania lawmakers since 2000. It has spent an additional $15 milliong on lobbying in Harrisburg in just the last five years.
MarcellusMoney.org exists to shine a light on the gas industry’s attempts to influence our political leaders and to hold those leaders accountable to the citizens of Pennsylvania. This site is a project of Common Cause PA and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania.