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The Effects Of Marcellus Shale Drilling On Wv Agriculture

1134 words - 5 pages

In recent years, the Marcellus Shale has been drilled for its natural gas. Drilling in the Marcellus Shale has proven profitable, and the drilling has its pros due to the fact that this project has created numerous jobs for the American population. Despite this, Marcellus Shale drilling has been a controversial topic due to the hazardous impact done to the lands in which the drilling took place. Some argue that while the drilling has helped the economy, it has also been the downfall of agriculture.

The Marcellus Shale is a rock formation found under the Appalachian states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. In 2009, the Department of Energy estimated that two ...view middle of the document...

Hydraulic fracturing – “hydrofracking” or simply “fracking” – involves injecting high volumes of water, sand, and chemicals – also known as frack fluid – into the ground to release natural gas; this mix has the possibility of contaminating drinking water millions of people in the Appalachian region rely on (“Natural Gas Drilling”). Approximately four percent of the methane gas produced by the wells escapes during the mining process and causes methane pollution. Methane gas contaminating drinking water is seventeen times higher near fracking locations than anywhere else. Other pollutants are released into the air from these wells; side effects of the air pollutants include short-term illness, cancer, organ damage, nervous system disorders, birth defects, and sometimes even death. Exposure to the toxic chemicals found during fracking can be lethal. In millions of gallons of fracking fluid, one can find six hundred and thirty two chemicals. Twenty five percent of the chemicals found are linked to cancer or mutations; thirty seven percent affect hormones. Forty to fifty percent affect kidneys along with the nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems; seventy five percent affect sensory organs and the respiratory and digestive systems. Gas explosions can cause blowouts, and fracking-induced earthquakes can occur. These earthquakes are typically small in magnitude, with the strongest one only being five point two out of ten, but they still cause fear in anyone who has to witness one. Infrastructure can be degraded. Some places where drilling occurs have an insufficient amount of water, and since hydraulic fracturing uses an abundance of water, these places may have an even larger shortage of water. If workers are not exceedingly cautious, they may be injured on the job when dealing with the chemicals or machinery. Crystalline silica inhalation can cause silicosis in workers; this lung disease is incurable but preventable if workers are careful (Hoffman). Only ten to twenty percent of frack fluids are recovered; waste waters contain mineral salts, toxic heavy metals, radioactive materials, and the chemicals added to the frack fluid (“What is Fracking?”).

Marcellus Shale drilling is found throughout a majority of West Virginia, and the drilling is often seen on farms where land is already cleared and generally flat. Marcellus Shale drilling workers often buy or lease farm land for a lofty sum of money to drill. Land not being used for drilling is often used to build hotels and other businesses for drilling workers. Consequently, agriculture is severely...

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