Fracking and exploration for natural gas does not come without its problems, though. The process uses about 3 million gallons of water per well. While many companies have committed to recycling the used water, the disposal of waste water is not uniform. There is also the ever-present danger of pollution as waste water spillage could potentially pollute rivers and streams, while the drilling process could contaminate wells and drinking water.
The environmental effects of a spill could be huge and impact fish and wildlife. We also see the effect on infrastructure caused by the large number of trucks traveling on roads and over bridges, resulting in a burden to municipalities. In defense of the industry, there are companies that have repaved roads to repair damage.
It’s hard to paint a true picture of how the multiplier effect truly benefits the Keystone State. Various studies have shown that about 55 percent of the royalties lease holders received from natural gas companies is spent in the first year, according to a 2011 study by Penn State Extension and Penn College. The study also revealed that 66 percent of the remaining funds are saved or invested.
The natural gas industry is in its infancy here in the Marcellus Shale as it fuels a still-developing new economy. As better technologies evolve, the industry will become more efficient. The industry-related job creation and good paying jobs certainly have had a positive impact on communities, especially in the short term.
It is important as the industry moves forward that its impact on the environment and on ecosystems be monitored in a responsible and efficient manner. Of all the fossil fuels, natural gas is the cleanest to burn, but we need to address any negative effects. The potential for the industry is huge, but must be managed responsibly. If done correctly, the industry can benefit those living in the areas where exploration occurs and society as a whole.