Oil and gas exploration needs review

Terry Engelder, Ph.D., a geologist at Penn State, has estimated that the total amount of natural gas in the Marcellus shale is somewhere between 168 trillion and 516 trillion cubic feet. About 10 percent of a known reserve usually is considered to be recoverable, but the amount can range considerably higher, according to Dr. Engelder.

For Pennsylvania, the potential exploitation of the field poses some substantial issues. Parts of the field are beneath some of the state’s prime forest land, and under other environmentally sensitive surface features. Given that the expansion of conventional drilling leases in state parks and forests already has led to controversy, drilling for the deep shale would be closely scrutinized.

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