Environmentalists want regulations for expected increase in natural gas drilling

    By: Scott Detrow

    Pennsylvania officials are banking on a boom in natural gas drilling over the next few years. But environmental advocates say lawmakers will need to put strict regulations in place to protect water sources.

    By: Scott Detrow

    Pennsylvania officials are banking on a boom in natural gas drilling over the next few years. But environmental advocates say lawmakers will need to put strict regulations in place to protect water sources.

    Transcript:
    When drilling companies tap into the Marcellus Shale, they’ll be using millions of gallons of water to drive the natural gas out of the ground.  That creates a problem, since the water is contaminated, and needs to be properly disposed.

    Acting Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger says the agency is working with companies to regulate drilling practices.

    Hanger: “We can absolutely both produce the gas and protect the water. Those two objectives are not mutually exclusive.”

    But environmental advocate David Masur, the director of PennEnvironment, says there have already been several regulatory failures.

    Masur: “In a couple of cases, drilling companies have removed so much water from local streams that they’ve actually run dry.”

    Masur also referenced an episode in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, where methane from a drilling operation leaked into drinking water, as another example of why more oversight is needed.  He says right now, lawmakers and regulators are still “playing catch up.”

    Listen:
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    [audio: reports20090319natgas.mp3]

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