Marcellus and Utica Shale

United States | Northeast : Marcellus and Utica Shale


The Marcellus Shale is a deep natural gas reserve running under parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. The Utica Shale is even deeper and larger, covering parts of these states plus Kentucky and Tennessee. For the last several years, the Marcellus has been the focus of a huge boom in exploration and extraction, and more recently activity has also started in the Utica. New drilling technologies, like the combination of hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling, have made these deposits—long considered too difficult and expensive to drill—accessible to the industry.

Some states open the door, others not

Currently, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia are at the heart of the eastern shale gas leasing and drilling boom, with tens of thousands of wells drilled and thousands more already given permits. In December 2014, New York announced it would prohibit high volumn hydraulic fracturing in the state. The process is also on hold in Maryland due to public opposition and state review.

Fracturing’s checkered history

Alongside a rapid increase in wells and political support for natural gas has been widespread public concern over health and environmental impacts—as well as a growing body of scientific evidence of water and air pollution from chemicals, industrial facilities, and waste. Loopholes in several national laws, outdated state regulations, and lax oversight and enforcement have made drilling much easier for industry—and life much harder for communities.

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Tagged with: west virginia, pennsylvania, ohio, new york, maryland, fracking

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