4379.0 How is the natural gas industry affecting communities in the Marcellus Shale?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 4:30 PM
This session will assess the impacts of the natural gas industry in recent years, highlighting the research that has been conducted that identifies the environmental and public health concerns and knowledge gaps associated with the natural gas drilling boom in the United States. Shale gas drilling is a relatively recent phenomenon across the U.S., with the advent of technology that allows for hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling through shale formations. This has been a major topic of conversation in the Marcellus Shale region, a sedimentary rock formation underlying significant portions of PA, NY and WV, smaller areas in KY, MA, OH, TN and VA, and across Lake Erie into Southern Ontario; the Marcellus is believed to hold trillions of cubic feet of methane gas, as well as other explosive gases and vapors. With the potential for economic benefits in these shale gas plays, there are also sacrifices. This session will question whether this domestic energy source is worth the environmental and public health risks. The presenters of this session will provide attendees with a background on the process of extracting natural gas from shale layers in the earth. They will then go on to describe the economic, environmental, and public health concerns surrounding the gas extraction process, especially those that have been observed in the Marcellus Shale region, including: road infrastructure degradation, explosions and blowouts, gas migration into drinking water wells, agriculture, hunting, and fishing impacts, water contamination from the disposal of waste fluids into surface waters, and human exposure to volatile organic compounds that off-gas from production facilities. The potential effects on vulnerable populations, such as children and nearby residents, consist of considerable adverse health effects and will be discussed in some detail. Speakers will also describe how communities within the Marcellus are experiencing or may experience significant environmental and economic injustice issues as a result of the various processes involved in natural gas extraction.
Session Objectives: 1. Describe the relatively new processes involved in drilling for natural gas in shale formations. 2. Describe the environmental, economic, social, and public health threats posed by the gas industry on communities residing in the Marcellus Shale region of the U.S. 3. Identify environmental injustice issues affecting Marcellus communities and vulnerable populations that can be triggered by natural gas drilling.
Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH
Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH

4:45 PM
Unconventional natural gas exploration and production: Critical core policy areas for the protection of public health and the environment
Conrad Volz, DrPH, MPH, Charles Christen, DrPH, MEd, Kyle John Ferrar, MPH, Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH, Matthew Kelso, BS, Andrew Michanowicz, MPH, CPH and Shannon Kearney, MPH, CPH

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Environment
Endorsed by: Socialist Caucus

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH) , Masters Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)

See more of: Environment