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Hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale Region

Shale buried deep beneath the ground from western New York to West Virginia (known as Marcellus shale) contains large reserves of natural gas. Natural gas is an important domestic energy source that burns more cleanly than coal and provides greater energy independence for America. At the same time, extracting gas from these shale deposits using horizontal hydraulic fracturing poses serious threats to water quality, local streams, fish and wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing. It is critical for states and localities to plan for, manage, and monitor hydraulic fracturing to reduce these threats.

This page highlights how the Izaak Walton League and our divisions, chapters, and members are working to protect resources critical to people, fish, and wildlife and strengthen oversight. We have also provided useful background information about the hydraulic fracturing process.

Will We Sacrifice Our Water for Gas? (PDF): New technology and interest in new sources of domestic fuel make the Marcellus shale gas field attractive to investors. But this “boom” for investors may not be good news for fish and wildlife. This article from the League's Outdoor America magazine provides an overview of the potential dangers to natural resources from horizontal fracturing operations.

League chapters and members in the Marcellus shale region, which stretches from western New York through Pennsylvania into Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, have been actively engaged on this issue for several years. At the League’s 2010 national convention, delegates adopted a resolution that calls on states to implement and strengthen rules governing fracking to improve protections for water resources, fish and wildlife, forests, and public health. The specific policy recommendations are included in the League’s 2010 Conservation Policies Handbook (see Chapter 6, N-Hydraulic Fracturing).

League helps launch Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation: The Izaak Walton League and the League's New York and Pennsylvania Divisions joined other sportsmen's groups to ensure hunters, anglers, and others who enjoy the outdoors have a voice in the debate about how to balance natural gas drilling that relies on horizontal hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) with other important values, including clean water, healthy habitat, and hunting and angling traditions. For more information, visit the Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation Web site.

EPA Fracking Study: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting a comprehensive study of the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing on surface and ground water and drinking water resources. EPA expects initial research results will be available in 2012. To learn more about the study and hydraulic fracturing, visit the EPA Web site.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) developed a fact sheet that provides objective background information about the fracturing process and highlights potential impacts of the process on water resources: Water Resources and Natural Gas Production from the Marcellus Shale (PDF).

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