The safety of fracking -- a controversial process to stimulate natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale -- will be re-evaluated by the Obama administration.

A bill passed by Congress and signed by the president last week urges the federal Environmental Protection Agency to use a "transparent, peer-reviewed process" to determine whether the fracking process has contaminated water supplies and degraded land around drilling sites.

The review could have special relevance to the Southern Tier, where the local and national debate over fracking will influence the development of the Marcellus Shale, and the environmental, policy and economic issues that go with it.

The Marcellus, the nation's largest natural gas reserve, runs under the Southern Tier and throughout Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio and West Virginia.

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