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Why should I care about Marcellus Shale gas extraction?

Marcellus Shale gas is arguably the biggest environmental and public health concern in a generation.

Marcellus Shale is a vast geologic formation that contains one of the largest reserves of natural gas in the world. It extends from Marcellus, NY, southwest of Syracuse, all the way to Tennessee. It also extends in New York from near the western boundary of New Jersey to Ohio.

Portions of New York's Catskills, Finger Lakes, Central New York and Southern Tier regions overlie Marcellus Shale.

The natural gas in Marcellus Shale can only be extracted by a heavy industrial process that involves horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." This process requires drilling down approximately one mile to the Marcellus Shale and then through the rock formation which is between 40 feet and 900 feet thick. Fracking fluid is then pumped into the gas well under high pressure. As a result, the shale cracks and releases natural gas contained in tiny pores in the rock.

Fracking a single Marcellus Shale gas well requires between five and seven million gallons of fracking fluid and poses a wide array of documented public health and environmental hazards.

New York State imposed a shale gas fracking moratorium in 2008 pending adoption of comprehensive safeguards as part of a Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement "permit guideline" proceeding. Until a Final SGEIS is adopted, the Marcellus Shale gas extraction moratorium remains in effect.

To date, not a single Marcellus Shale gas well has ever been fracked in New York.

New York's Marcellus Shale formation underlies a portion of the state where conventional gas and oil extraction has been practiced for more than a century. Conventional wells are drilled into pockets of pressurized gas or oil. The production wells are active until no more gas or oil flows out. New York has inherited an enormous legacy of contamination hazards in the areas where conventional drilling was most common.

Toxics Targeting has compiled an archive of government information related to Marcellus Shale gas extraction regulatory proceedings as well as an interactive map that illustrates the locations of gas and oil production wells, abandoned and unplugged wells, aquifers, wetlands and other sensitive receptors that could be impacted by shale gas extraction activities.

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