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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling and the NCT

NCT and Marcellus Shale
how the Marcellus Shale is located in relation to the North Country Trail. Right click the map to enlarge or follow the FLT link below to see the full-size version (graphic from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference)

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from several sources

The Marcellus Shale is a geological formation in a large part of New York and Pennsylvania. The proposals to extract gas from this layer are being scrutinized closely by New York, and less carefully by Pennsylvania.

The extraction method will be hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking. This involved boring horizontal tunnels, and injecting water under pressure until the rock fractures, releasing the gas. The Marcellus Shale is about 6000 feet below the surface. There have been reported problems with the method in Wyoming, where it is being blamed for aquifer contamination.

If drilling is allowed it is highly likely that it will impact the North Country Trail in multiple locations.

Retired Pennsylvania DCNR Policy Director, Rick Carlson, supported a temporary moratorium, and the passage of HB 2235, which will temporarily stop new leasing of State Forest land while the potentially harmful effects on land and waters are studied.

New York has prohibited the practice in the New York City watershed, essentially the Catskills.

The Finger Lakes Trail Conference has offered a position paper on Marcellus Shale drilling. It states: "The draft SGEIS [Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement] characterizes “trails” as “visual features”. However, the FLT is much more than a passive visual feature; it is a long distance, wilderness character footpath, and provides numerous benefits to people across the state and for out of state visitors. The simple application of “line of sight” and “view shed” criteria does not provide adequate protection of these benefits. Although the occasional vistas do provide long views of the surrounding countryside, much of the appeal of the trail is in the active, physical involvement with close-by sights, sounds, smells, and the overall experience of being in a natural setting." It includes a 9-point list of reasons the FLTC opposes the drilling. These are:
  • Dilution of trail resources
  • Loss of wilderness
  • Loss of trail quality
  • Loss of trail continuity
  • Loss of membership
  • Hiker safety
  • Landowner relationship degredation
  • Increased motorized use
  • Reduced likelihood of permanent protection

This affects all FLT maps M1-M33 and NCTA map PA-01, 02, 03

The entire FLTC statement can be read at Comment on the [Draft] Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement

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