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Nuts and Bolts of Marcellus Shale Drilling and Fracking


April 14, 2011


Washington, DC

Abundant, inexpensive, and lower in emissions than traditional coal power sources, natural gas is expected to play an enormous role in our energy future. Although the drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" has made it possible to extract natural gas from "plays" such as the Marcellus Shale Play, some members of the public have become increasingly concerned about problems alleged to be associated with fracking and drilling, such as groundwater contamination, leaks into homes, and air pollution. With the increase in drilling have come economic upheavals and municipal burdens for the communities that have seen an explosion in natural gas drilling.

The economic, energy and environmental implications of natural gas are amplified by fast-moving legal developments, including many proposals for new studies, regulations and legislation. For example, although Congress exempted fracking operations from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, except when drillers use diesel fuel in the fracking fluid, recent reports indicate that for years some drillers may have been using diesel fuel without permits. Added to federal developments are efforts by some state and local governments to ban drilling within their jurisdictions or to require disclosure of the contents of fracking fluid, and recent allegations of drinking water polluted by uranium in drilling wastewater.

An expert panel discussed these developments in Marcellus Shale, where the issues mirror those of other gas fields across the country. A subsequent session on Marcellus Shale took place on May 19, 2011, Beyond Marcellus Shale: Policy Implications of Natural Gas Drilling and Fracking, where we built on this discussion and talked about policy implications of Marcellus Shale drilling in a national energy context. Special thanks to Joel Burcat, Saul Ewing, for helping to develop this series.

Event panelists

Joel Burcat, Partner, Saul Ewing LLP (moderator)
Terry Bossert, Vice President of Government Affairs, Chief Oil & Gas LLC
Deborah J. Nardone, Senior Campaign Representative for Natural Gas, The Sierra Club
Elizabeth A. Nolan, Assistant Counsel, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Additional Materials:
Joel Burcat's presentation: Nuts and Bolts of Marcellus Shale
Deborah Nardone's presentation: The Natural Gas Reform Campaign
Elizabeth Nolan's presentation: Nuts and Bolts of Marcellus Shale
Listen to a recording of the seminar


This ELI Associate Seminar was made possible by the generous support of our members.