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How can Pennsylvania balance energy independence with ecological conservation?

Two goals of government are at the center of a debate in the state of Pennsylvania: environmental stewardship and energy independence.

The state is situated directly over the center of a geological formation known as the Marcellus Shale, a massive pocket of natural gas that spans 54,000 square miles from southern New York to West Virginia, with a majority of the formation in Pennsylvania. With advances in drilling technology, energy companies have converged on the region to tap into this massive reserve of natural gas - and harnessing domestic energy resources like the Marcellus Shale have been viewed by some as a key in reducing the United States’ dependence on foreign oil.

However, many are concerned that tapping into the Marcellus Shale would have a major impact on the surrounding environment. First, the drilling process would take water from streams and lakes, then there is the threat of polluting local ecologies once the process is complete. Groups ranging from the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited (PCTU) - the state chapter of a national trout fishing lobbying group - to the Sierra Club – a national environmental activist organization - have taken issue with the drilling because of its potential impact on the environment.

As the debate plays out, both sides are attempting to strike a balance between protecting the land and making it profitable for the state and its residents.

Energy within our own borders

A mile beneath the Appalachian Mountain range sits a massive formation of rock with tight pores that contain natural gas, known as the Marcellus Shale. Geologists estimate that the rock formation - which lies under parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia - contains 363 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is a primary fuel used to produce electricity, as well as heat homes.

The gas is mined by drilling deep wells into the shale and then employing a process known as hydrofracturing, or “fracking.” This involves mixing water with sand and chemicals and propelling downward, fracturing the rock and releasing the gas.

The obvious upside to this process is that it taps a natural energy resource in our own country. In 2006, when former President George W. Bush made his  State of the Union speech, saying \“America is addicted to oil,” he charged the country not only with looking for alternative fuels in the interest of reducing our dependence on foreign oil, but also with tapping sources within our own borders. The Marcellus Shale is one such source.

Another positive of the drilling process is the impact it will have on local economies, through creation of jobs and generation of new tax revenue. John Hanger, acting secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, said in a February press release that “Natural gas exploration, particularly in the Marcellus Shale, promises billions of dollars in investment and economic growth for the commonwealth.”

Additionally, as more oil companies begin to drill on the land, the state has found other ways to potentially profit. A bill introduced by House Majority Whip Bill DeWeese of Greene County (House Bill 10) would allow the state to factor the value of underground natural gas and oil into real estate taxes. This means that drilling companies that buy resource-rich properties in hopes of drilling there would have to pay extra taxes on the properties, which would be funneled right back into the state and local services. Timothy Allwein, an official with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, told the Tribune-Review that 45 of the poorest school districts in the state would benefit from such a real estate tax.

Preventing ecological damage

By most accounts, drilling in the Marcellus Shale certainly stands to be a boon to the state economy. However, environmental experts worry that it will also have an impact - a negative one - on the surrounding ecology.

The first concern is the use of water in the fracking process. Drilling operation requires one to three million gallons of water for each fracking, and sometimes the rock must be fracked multiple times before the gas is fully released. This water would be taken from local resources - streams, rivers and lakes - and environmental groups worry that the removal of so much water will upset the ecology of the animals that drink from it and the fish that live in it. One concerned group, the PCTU, points out that the Marcellus Shale and its mining operations “coincide with the location of many of Pennsylvania’s wild trout streams.” They suggest that removal of that much water could adversely impact the trout population that thrives in the state.

Once the fracking process is complete, the water is contaminated by mixing with chemicals and coming into contact with the natural.. Between 20 and 40 percent remains underground, and the rest becomes wastewater, nolonger able to sustain life in its former environment. However, the wastewater, if treated, can be used in sewage plants for dilution purposes; it can be used for dust suppression on dirt roads and can be used by PennDOT in treating ice- and snow-covered roads.

While some take issue with the sizable portion of the contaminated water that would remain underground, experts insist this is not a concern. In an op-ed column for The Greater Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Robert Watson, a professor of natural gas engineering and environmental systems engineering at Penn State University, wrote “The subject formation [the Marcellus Shale] is nearly a mile below the surface and is separated from the surface by an equal distance of rock. The simple reality is that stimulation using this technique does not impact ground-water bearing zones.”

Nevertheless, the applications for the treated wastewater also have environmentalists very concerned. Bringing the contaminated water back to the surface and using it on roads, even if it has been treated, essentially re-introduces this contaminated water back into the environment. Whether through absorption into the ground through dirt roads or through runoff on paved roads, it still makes its way back into the water system from which it came.

For many groups, the question is not whether the drilling will take place over the Marcellus Shale, rather how much oversight is given to the process.A statement by the Sierra Club pointed out how new the process is and how much room there is for evaluation on its impact. “Natural gas is a transitional fuel as the U.S. transitions to a clean energy economy,” the statement said. “However, the Sierra Club is concerned about the environmental effects of drilling. Deep well drilling on such a large scale is a relatively new to Pennsylvania; the environmental effects have not been fully evaluated. DEP recently warned of problems associated with violations of environmental requirements.”

What do you think?

How can the state balance energy independence with ecological conservation? Do the tax and economic benefits outweigh the potential costs to the environment? Should the state place greater oversight on miners and treatment operations? What would be the best way to prevent a negative impact on our local streams and lakes? Can you think of a compromise that ensures Pennsylvania takes advantage of domestic energy production while not compromising the local environment? Join the discussion!
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Comments
6/5/2009

thott
Trinity, Washington,PA
We should use more wind power. It is a free, endless resource that should be used to our advantage. It will eliviate are need for coal and other natural resources.

5/27/2009

Greg B
Trinity high school, washington, PA
What should be done is to improve the system in which they tap the resources. If they can cleanly tap it and get energy at the same time it is a win win. I think the environment is more important to preserve until a clean drilling process can be found.

5/26/2009

Derek
Trinity, Washington
They just need to work on when using coal to help and dispose of the refuse properly

5/26/2009

Misber
THS, WashPA
1. The state as well as the country need to have a massive conservation promotion so that less energy is needed. 2. Since the paper today said that Harrisburg wants to tax the newfound gas - the state will probably NOT go for a mass conservation effort. 3. Cutting down the need for fuel will save the environment more than anything else.

5/26/2009

Megan B.
Trinity High School, Washington PA
Wind power an solar power are both ecological friendly and provide independance.

4/2/2009

Jennifer O.
Springfield HS, Springfield, PA
PA should first look into alternative sources of energy, such as solar and wind power, before depending on more non-renewable sources of energy such as natural gas. Unfortunately, humans have realized that yes, one day our supply of natural gas and oil will go dry. If renewable energy sources prove unreliable, too expensive, or can not sustain as much homes as the natural gas can, then PA should turn to the supply of native natural gas next. I understand the environmental concerns, but extra careful moderating and watching should go into this. Water should be tested often. Plus, this drilling of the natural gas provides several types of jobs that are pretty secure for the near future. It also lessens our nation and state’s dependency on foreign oil, which should be our first goal. With this supply of natural gas, this has been accomplished, yet non-renewable sources should be the first way to go in this scenario.

4/1/2009

Cheryl B
Springfield High School, Springfield, Pennsylvania
I think that for the time being, Marcellus Shale should not be drilled for natural gas. It is at too great a cost for the environment. Those supporting the drilling are minimizing the effects on the environment because they may not be immediate. Water is one of the foundations of life; removing millions of gallons of water from local rivers, lakes, and streams would completely disrupt the ecosystems of those areas. Not only aquatic life would suffer, but also the wildlife on land that relies on that water would suffer. Another major negative about the use of water for fracking is that after it has served its purpose, it’s useless. Twenty to forty percent remains underground and the rest is contaminated. Supporters of harnessing natural gas from Marcellus Shale say how this waste water can be used in other ways, as if to say it is recyclable, but no matter how this contaminated water is used, its ultimate destination is the place from which it came. Although pollution like this already occurs, it does not justify finding new ways to pollute our environment; because ultimately, the more we hurt the environment, the more we hurt ourselves. The benefits may be great, but that does not give anybody the right to overlook the serious risks.

3/31/2009

Rose M.
Springfield High School, Springfield, PA
It is a good idea that America is trying not to depend on other countries for oil, and that is where former President Bush was correct. Also, it is a good thing that the polluted water is being reused for other purposes, like for PennDOT in treating ice and snow covered roads, dust suppression on dirt roads, and, if treated, sewage plants for dilution purposes. The fact that there is polluted water sitting in the ground, and can possibly re-pollute some other areas, is not reassuring in any way. How the fracking process can happen multiple times to get gas out, is not reassuring either. Is the around where it was fracked polluted? I think America needs to find alternate sources of energy, like wind or solar power as much as they can, otherwise, there will not be enough ecological conservation happening.

3/31/2009

Staci R.
Springfield Highshcool, Springfield
I think that finding new sauces of energy is a very important to the economy right now. It is also incredible that they found such a resource right here where we live. The sound of a new energy source is great, yet not at the expense of the environment. The whole purpose of finding new energy sources is to benefit the environment and torment it in a different way. Water is a basic need and is used everyday for various purposes, if tapping into this energy sauce will pollute that water it should not even be put into consideration. I do believe that it is important for us to stop depending on others for energy sources but at the same time I am not sure that the economic benefits will out way the harm this could have to the surrounding environment and those who live in it.

3/31/2009

Staci R.
Springfield High Shcool, Springfield
I think that finding new sources of energy is a very important to the economy right now. It is also incredible that they found such a resource right here where we live. The sound of a new energy source is great, yet not at the expense of the environment. The whole purpose of finding new energy sources is to benefit the environment and torment it in a different way. Water is a basic need and is used everyday for various purposes, if tapping into this energy sauce will pollute that water it should not even be put into consideration. I believe that it is important for us to stop depending on other nations for energy sources but at the same time I am not sure that the economic benefits will out way the harm this could have to the surrounding environment and those who live in it.

3/31/2009

Clemens M.
Springfield HS, Springfield, PA
I think it is wrong of the author, John Vettese, to assume that the only possible energy independence solutions for Pennsylvania is natural gas. There are many areas around Pennsylvania that would be ideal places for wind turbines. They do not have any effect on the environment, and they provide large amounts of energy for homes. If natural gas compromises environmental protection, it should not be done. The article speaks of damage to water supplies by draining the ground of it. I do not think that this effect outweighs the energy it provides.

3/31/2009

Madelyn L
Springfield High School, Springfield, PA
In response to Maryann L. pd 5th: I agree that newer energy resources are a good idea. However, I must respectfully disagree with your other points. Energy is something that is very important to conserve and develop new ways to gain it. Yes, maybe hitting the Marcellus Shale will cause problems for the surrounding communities, but there are things like that happening every day. People’s communities are ruined by earthquakes, hurricanes, and many other natural disasters which bring about no benefits. We must deal with these problems for the communities, so why not deal with a little problem by hitting the Marcellus Shale and actually get some benefit from it. And even though the tools to mine are expensive, they could be made by an American company, so we would in turn be stimulating the economy even more, in addition to the jobs that would be provided to people who are able to do this kind of work. Add to that the bonus of finding a renewable resource that is more energy efficient, and that would be a good deal. So while there are some disadvantages to hitting the Marcellus Shale, the benefits far outweigh the risks. The need for new energy supplies is daunting, and someone has to find a way to satisfy those needs, even if it means making problems for a community.

3/31/2009

Maddie P.
Springfield High School, Springfield, PA
Developing new methods to find alternate sources of energy in the U.S. is essential for the economies and environments of the world. I believe that tapping into this region will only be good for so long. As we have learned, oil does run out after numerous years of use and drilling. What will we do when this region is no longer filled with natural gas and the surrounding environment has been greatly damaged? This solution for the fear of oil loss would be short-term but America should lead the way in looking towards long-term goals for alternate energy sources. To balance energy independence and ecological conservation, we should begin to use more wind, solar and nuclear power for energy. We should not make our environment, including the animals that live there, suffer because of our dependence on gas in general. To prevent a negative impact on local lakes, streams and habitats, the species native to these regions would have to be safely displaced.

3/26/2009

Shyniece
university city high school, philadelphia ,pa
I think that the energy is good but if we have to keep getting more energy that would not be good for our pollution and air. Then our economy would be messed up.

3/26/2009

Enriqa
University City High School, Philadelphia Pa
I think if the government needs oil, they need to come up with better way to get it. They need to come up with a safe way without causing problems in other countries or in our own.

3/26/2009

Channin H
University City HS, Philadelphia PA
I think that the benefit of having new energy is a good idea, but because of the new energy the environment will be in danger. But if they are drilling somewhere they should build something to prevent waste from getting into our stream of water use. Also if the environment is damaged, then anything is meaningless.

3/25/2009

Malik C.
university city hight, phila,pa
I really don't know what's going on with our energy sources but I also think that the environment would be in danger of polution. If they are going to do some drilling, they should build something to prevent waste from getting into our stream of water use.

3/23/2009

Maryann L. pd 5th
Northeast High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The benefit of having new energy is a good idea, but cause of the new energy will cause the environment to be in danger. Hiting the Marcellus Shale will ruining the community around the areas causing more trouble. The tools to mine the gas out from underground will cost a lot money and the economy is already in danger. The benefit of the energy is very liminted and should be kept to emergency needs.

3/23/2009

QianW PD2
Northeast High School, Philadelphia
It is a great news that found such resources under the place we live. However, if the energy companies want to drill it, I think they need to put the ecological balancing at the first place. If the environment is damaged, then anything is meaningless. The local water can possibly being polluted is another issue, since water is our daily need, if the water is being polluted, then it affects all the residents here. I guess the best way to solve is to find another source of water. In my own opinion, I think we should calculate the cost for drilling the oil out, if it’s too expensive, it is better just leave it out there.

3/23/2009

Marthe T. F.-PD5
NEHS, Philadelphia/PA
I think that having new energy is good but it's drilling to get it that i'm scared of. I'm afraid that while drilling something might go wrong and it might contaminate the water and food we eat. Our environment might be in danger also. I think that the best way to prevent that from happenning is to find really experience miners that knows what they are doing to do the job because a job like that need to be handle very carefully.They should also find a way to do it without spending and wasting too much money. It's a good thing to do. The state or whom ever is taking care of that job should just plan it out carefully.

3/23/2009

Whitney V.
Northeast HS, Philadelphia,PA
I understand that we are trying to gain our independence from foreign affairs but is it really going to benefit our environment? We are now dealing with other economic problems where we need to be careful with every move we make. Yes maybe driling somewhere safe may help dealing with foreign affairs but is it really going to help our economic issues. In this situation we are letting foreign affairs outweigh our economic affairs when we should be doing just the opposite if not balance the two. We have been going through the same plan for years in Pennsylvania and I trully believe that right now is not the best time to make the change. We should be thinking about what is at hand first which is our economic problems and then deal with foreign affairs later.That is my idea on balancing energy independence with ecological conservation.

3/23/2009

Peguy C. Pd. 5
Northeast High School, Philadelphia/ PA
Right now we are relying on foreign countries to get oil, but we also have oil on our grounds. Its true that by drilling oil we are polluting our waters but it also cost more money to get oil from other countries. Right now we should invest in renewable energy because the oil in the other countries won’t last forever. We should invest in new ways to drill oil without destroying our environment.

3/23/2009

Chad O. pd 2
Northeast High School, Philadelphia, PA
I believe the state can balance energy independence with ecological conservation by doing the drilling only in areas that will have the least effect on the surrounding environment. I believe that it is important for us to be independent with our energy sources. I believe that at this time with the way our economy is, the economic benefits out way the potential harm to the environment. I think the state should keep doing what there doing as far as oversight and treatment operations. I think they should just try to stay as far as possible from streams and lakes.

3/23/2009

stefanyC. pd5
nehs, phila/pa
There are a whole bunch of concerns that are involved with this plan. Now its a good idea to reduce taking oil from the foriegn countries but all it takes is one little screw up and all of the 54,000 square miles of land is screwed and that will be more money that does not need to be spent because of the downfall in this world today. I believe the best way to prevent a neagtive impact is to just find a better way, there is a better way we just have to find one.

3/22/2009

YiXin L. Pd 2.
Northeast High School, Philadelphia PA
Environmental stewardship and energy independence are both important to us. Of course, the Marcellus Shale is a good plan to develope energy. However, I think ecological conservation is more important to us. Because environment is like a kind of limit source. If you use it. They will not be produced again for a log time. Same thing, If you damage it. It will keep forever.It can't be fixed again. So, I think we should develope a better drilling technology that would not damage the environment. For the Marcellus Shale, I think they should reduce the develope area.

3/22/2009

rydesha.H pd2
northeast high school, philadelphia pa
I believe that at the moment they think it is a good idea but in the long run it could put great demage on the environment. I think that the cost of the environment will outweigh the cost of tax because it will cost alot to fix the environment. Yes, the state should place a oversight on miners and treatment operations but not spend to much money in the process. The best way to prevent a negative impact on our local streams and lakes is to come up with a better method in getting the energy

3/22/2009

Ricky S. pd2
NEHS, Phila,PA
I don’t believe that the economic benefits outweigh the potential costs to the environment. When it comes to the environment and energy independence the United States must take some risks. But I think that the state of Pennsylvania should not endanger the environment by mining into the Marcellus Shale. The state has a few ways to balance the energy independence and still not put the environment at risk. I believe that if we use alternative fuels to power items than it would not only be great for the environment, but it would be much more cost efficient, and we would conserve all our resources.

3/22/2009

Ricky S. pd2
NEHS, Phila,PA
I don’t believe that the economic benefits outweigh the potential costs to the environment. When it comes to the environment and energy independence the United States must take some risks. But I think that the state of Pennsylvania should not endanger the environment by mining into the Marcellus Shale. The state has a few ways to balance the energy independence and still not put the environment at risk. I believe that if we use alternative fuels to power items than it would not only be great for the environment, but it would be much more cost efficient, and we would conserve all our resources.

3/22/2009

Kashonda M. PD 2
Northeast Magnet, Philadelphia, Pa
I think that energy independence is important, but I belive ecological conservtion is more important. I consider myself to be "green", so I have to stand up on behalf of the enviornment. If tapping into Marcellus Shale could possibly damage the surrounding enviornment then I don't think we should take the chance. Although energy independece will save us money now, we still have to consider the future! The amount of money that will be needed to reconstruct the enviornment after the gas is all used up could possibly surpass the amount it will save us now. In this case, I believe that the potential costs outwiegh the immediate benefits. The best to prevent destruction to the local streams, lakes and ultimately ecosystems is not to drill at all.

3/22/2009

Giovanny
NEHS, Philadelphia, PA
Is reducing our dependence on foreign energy more important than keeping our environment safe? I believe that our environment is far more important than reducing our dependence on foreign energy. I think that we should find a way to diminish our need for foreign energy but not if it will harm the environment in the long run. Keeping our lakes and streams clean should be our number one priority; it should outweigh the need for U.S made energy. The benefit that we will get from energy independence will not outweigh the long term damage we are doing to our environment. I am all for energy independence but not if it damages the environment.

3/22/2009

QianW PD2
Northeast High School, Philadelphia
It is a great news that found such resources under the place we live. However, if the energy companies want to drill it, I think they need to put the ecological balancing at the first place. If the environment is damaged, then anything is meaningless. The local water can possibly being polluted is another issue, since water is our daily need, if the water is being polluted, then it affects all the residents here. I guess the best way to solve is to find another source of water. In my own opinion, I think we should calculate the cost for drilling the oil out, if it’s too expensive, it is better just leave it out there.

3/22/2009

Alex W.
NEHS PD. 5 SSADV, Philadelphia, PA
When it comes to situations like this, we must know how far we are willing to go. It is great we have other sources of energy in our own country but at the same time we must manage how much we pollute our environment. We could find safer ways to drill and protect our water supplies because excessive pollution is not worth it. Miners and other workers should be kept at close watch. This is our environment, our world and we should protect it.

3/22/2009

Robert
NEHS, Phila. PA.
I believe that they should not tap into the Marcellus Shale. Our environment is already in danger, we don't need. We don't need any more pollution. There are other ways that the Pennsylvania can balance energy independence with ecological conservation. They could always just switch to electric, solar power, wind power, lightning rods, or hydro power. All we seem to care about is making money. If we just spend a little bit of that money where it needs to be spent then we could reap only the best benefits in the end. Our environment would be saved as well.

3/22/2009

Azharuddin A., SSADV, pd.2
northeast hs, phila, PA
I think that the state can balance the energy by drilling the Marcellus Shale but putting restrictions as to what the do and how they do it. If they drill safely and possibly find another source of water somewhere else, then I’m sure that the environmental companies wouldn’t mind. I really think that the tax and economic benefits is heavy on the costs of the environment and which we live in also. Yes, the state should put greater oversight on miners and treatment operations. I think if we used water like from somewwhere else or another source that would help, or if we cleaned the water after using it. This would save our earth and it will be better for the future.

3/22/2009

Vivian L. Pd. 5
NEHS, Philadelphia, PA
I believe that our state should be energy independent. However, i don't think that it's a good idea to drill into Marcellus Shale at this time. We can still get oil from foreign countries since the price is still pretty low. Drilling into Marcellus Shale would have a huge risk to the environment, pollute the air, affect the wild life, and our water supply. I think that we should do more research on the specific location and have more accurate results on what might happen if we were to drill. We can also improve our drilling technology so that there would be a less of a risk for the environment. If the drilling is successful and there was a very low risk for the state then it would benefit everyone because now we would have the advantage of natural gas. The best way to prevent the negative impact on our local streams and lakes are to protect them, know exactly whats going to happen when the drilling is in process. After that is all figured out, we can then find a way to prevent the negative outcomes.

3/22/2009

Chiquita S. pd. 2
northeast high school, Philadelphia, PA
I believe that the gov't should find away to harness the natural resources. In these harsh economic times I agree that the U.S. should become independent of foreign oil. As long as it is done in a safe and efficient way it should be a success. Because it would be irresponsible to have a functioning economy with low taxes but have more pollution on Earth. I think the state should allow the drilling but place stricter rules and regulations on the miners and digging sites to prevent any more pollution to lakes and streams.

3/22/2009

Vivian L. Pd. 5
NEHS, Philadelphia, PA
I believe that our state should be energy independent. However, I don't think that it's a good idea to drill into Marcellus Shale at this time. We can still get oil from foreign countries since the price is still pretty low. Drilling into Marcellus Shale would have a huge risk to the environment, pollute the air, affect the wild life, and our water supply. I think that we should do more research on the specific location and have more accurate results on what might happen if we were to drill. We can also improve our drilling technology so that there would be a less of a risk for the environment. If the drilling is successful and there was a very low risk for the state then it would benefit everyone because now we would have the advantage of natural gas. The best way to prevent the negative impact on our local streams and lakes are to protect them, know exactly whats going to happen when the drilling is in process. After that is all figured out, we can then find a way to prevent the negative outcomes.

3/21/2009

Samantha S. Per 2 SS ADV
Northeast HS, Phila
I think that the environment around the area is more important, but if they believe that it is absolutely necessary to drill there, they should. Howeever, I believe that they should drill safely. For example, they can drill a little at a time and if it makes a bad impact on the environment around it, then they should stop. If the community around the area diagrees with the idea of drilling in their environment, then they should not do it. The community should vote on the idea and decide from there what is more important- the oil or the environment.

3/21/2009

Antoine F Pd 5
Northeast High School, Philadelphia PA
I dont think tapping into the Marcellus Shale would be the best idea if it could harm the environment. But I also do stongly feel that something needs to be done about saving energy and making a better eco-system. The people in charge have to do a better job at managing the budget so that the cost of repair does not outweigh the environment. The best way to prevent a negative impact on streams and lakes would be to have more trained people involved with the up keep of the environment and prevent pollution.

3/21/2009

Sadora T.
NEHS 2nd PD, Philly, PA
I’m not sure how the states can balance out ecological conservation and energy independence. I feel as though if the United States is going to try to get oil or gas from the M. Shale then it would be very costly in every way. It would be costly to the environment and to the economy. It would be costly to the environment because animals would lose their habitat which is the main reason why a lot of species are dying off and it would cost more money to repair that habitat. It would also be costly because we are losing some of our natural resources. It would be costly to the economy because if we are using all of our money to make this energy independence possible then people would have to give up some of their hard earned money to fund this project which would have a negative impact on the economy because since we are in a recession, MORE people would not want to buy things which would kind of ruin the circular flow of money (if I am not mistaken). The best way to prevent the streams and lakes from being affected is to try to not do the M.shale drilling at all or find a way to preserve the bodies of water after the drilling.

3/20/2009

Yuting L. PD5
Northeast High School, Philadelphia/PA
Even though the benefits from those new energy will bring certain amount of profit in economy,the demage on surrounding environment will cost more. Since the environment will affect whole community in a long time, government shouldn't just look at the short term benefit from the energy. Since the energy won't disappear, we can keep the energy for future use untill we have better drill process that can lower the harm of environment. The benefit of energy is limit, but the impact on environment will remain long time.

3/20/2009

Yianni K.
Stroudsburg Junior High, Stroudsburg, PA
Pennsylvania can balance energy independence with ecological conservation in several ways. One way to balance the energy is a theory that with the Marcellus Shale, a massive pocket of natural gas that spans 54,000 square miles with a majority of the formation in Pa. With advances in drilling technology, some energy companies have made ideas that involve converging on the region to tap into this massive reserve of natural gas, and harness domestic energy resources. By doing this it may reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil. The Marcellus Shale is a mile beneath the Appalachian Mountains and contains natural gas. The Marcellus Shale contains 363 trillion cubic feet of natural gas which could be used to produce electricity, and well as heating homes.

3/20/2009

Will
SJHS, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
If we try to invest in energy sources that are friendly to the environment and cost efficient it would help us in this tough economy and it would be a viable source of heat and electricity. But until this sort of thing is developed we will have to stick to the old methods of getting power using some solar and more wind farms. I think they do if we have more power to spare people will get electricity at a reduced rate which would help people save money each year on their electricity bills each month and year. They should place more oversight on miners and their operations if we have more environmentally friendly bosses or overseers watching them they would be a lot more efficient at what they do. Invest in solar and wind farms.

3/20/2009

Eliseo
SJHS, Stroudsburg PA
I believe when it comes to the environment and energy independence in the U.S, some risks must be taken. Tapping into the Marcellus Shale would affect the surrounding environment in an array of negative ways. However, the new source of natural gas would lead to more of independence to foreign oil, releasing us from the dependency of countries that don’t like us. New jobs would be created employing those laid of by the recession. I think the drilling companies should be very vigilant when using the resources they need for the project. In the end, I stand by more employment and independence then the surrounding area.

3/20/2009

patrick
SJHS, stroudsburg
The state can charge a tax on energy to cut down the bill and save energy. Yes because you can pay to filter the water and make it fresh. Also you can get better equipment to get the natural gas out of the ground. Yes to see if they are filtering it right and make sure it is healthy for us. Don’t filter water that is already used back in to the streams and lakes. No I can’t think of a compromise.

3/20/2009

Laura H.
Stroudsburg Junior High, Stroudsburg, PA
I believe that the state of Pennsylvania should not be jeopardizing the environment by carelessly mining into the Marcellus Shale. The state cannot forget the importance of the environment, and before beginning any process they need to evaluate whether or not their actions will tip the delicate balance that the environment’s health sits upon. Drilling into the Marcellus Shale would most likely tip this balance and affect every single ecosystem in the area. The environment should not be sacrificed merely due to the desperation for energy sources. However, the benefits the natural gases would attribute to the state would be many; the state would aid in making the country as a whole less dependent upon other countries’ energy sources. In order to make a compromise, I think that the fracking process should not use the water from the streams in surrounding areas. They should use wastewater from a previous endeavor, as not to damage even more of the environment and take water away from the animal populace. Also, this wastewater should be dealt with carefully after the process is completed. It should be taken away from the immediate area and cleansed so it can be used for the other purposes mentioned in this article.

3/20/2009

Maegan M.
Stroudsburg JHS, Stroudsburg, PA
In my opinion, the state can have a few ways to balance the energy independence and still not put the environment at risk. A way that they could help to resolve this problem is to have some of the money that is paid in order to drill and receive oil, have some of that money go towards helping the environment. In order to drill, people are going to need to use some resources so that we can get the best natural gas possible. But some of that money that is spent on drilling could be used for the environment. That money could very well be used to filter the water when it is done being used for gas. If it is filtered well enough then it could be good enough for animals to live in again and it could save many different species. Whether the animals are just using the water for food, or the animals live in it.

3/20/2009

C. C.
SJHS, Stoudsburg, PA
I think that we should try to keep a good economical and ecological balance, whether we are trying to look for alternative fuels or not. The fact that we do have a large amount of natural gas that can be used as alternative energy, but that it costs so much and uses so many resources to get, could become a problem after a while, if we continued to do it. If there was a source of water that we could draw from without hurting the environment, then we would be able to continuously draw water and frack the rock, so as to get at the deposits of natural gas to use for energy. I think that we should make attempts to find deposits of water that we can draw from that wouldn’t hurt the local environment. An example could be the Delaware River. With constant amounts of water flowing, we may be able to get at least some of the water for the mining process from there, instead of having to use local lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. The benefits to our economy and the tax benefits, as well as the benefits we would gain from using our own natural source of energy, are indeed good. However, we cannot overlook the fact that the environment would suffer a great amount of damage if this process is not handled carefully. If we take time, and do this right, we will be able to find a way to get the gas, without damaging the environment, and gaining the benefits of using natural energy. As of right now, if we rush into this, we may end up doing more damage than we would be able to prevent or heal to the environment. Even then, we still have to be careful in the fact that natural gas can be dangerous as well. We cannot have too many places being mined at once. What if something happens, considering it is natural gas? If we rush into this matter too quickly, we may end up seeing some people, as well as the environment, getting hurt, without giving us any benefits in return.

3/20/2009

Nikolas
SJHS, PA
I think that although there are a few negative sides to drilling, the economic and financial benefits greatly outweigh the negatives. Especially in a time of economic downturn this would create money and jobs, all at the same time helping the U.S. transition to better sources of energy. Yes there is concern for our trout population, but you can’t always turn things down just because of some small ecological concerns. Especially for an opportunity such as this, turning it down just for some water and fish is not a good idea. We should try to compromise with the ecologists, and not be reckless. Like some have pointed out, a portion of the water used could be recycled in a way and used in other situations. So it’s not really that bad. Turning this down is a move we don’t want to make, especially in this recession.

3/20/2009

Hannah C.
Stroudsburg JHS, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
The tax and economic benefits do not outweigh the potential costs to the environment. The environment affects us in so many ways and to harm it without sufficient research would be horrible. Even with research it doesn’t justify the fact that so many aspects of the environment would be harmed. Although it is for a good cause we would gain something and then lose another. The best way is to continue with our foreign oil sources despite the difficulties we face. The state should place greater oversight on miners and treatments because that would clarify the main problems with this proposition. The best way to not place negative impact on lakes and streams is to use a different liquid for this purpose. I honestly do not think it should be done at all but if it does go through another liquid should be used. As far as a compromise goes I think that it would be unnecessary. In all situations there are those that are disappointed with the decisions made by the state and those that are happy. In this situation the best course of action would be to do our best to maintain the one thing that affects the world as a whole: the environment.

3/20/2009

Kaila D.
SJHS, Stroudsburg, PA
No, I don’t think that the tax and economic benefits outweigh the potential costs to the environment, mostly because the taxes and benefits pretty much go to their own uses and do what they want with it. Yes, the miners and treatment operations definitely should be watched over better, especially considering that if something were to happen and leak and harm the environment, it would cost a lot more money to fix it than it would to extract the oil. I think that the lakes and streams should be protected while drilling so they don’t get contaminated. It would be nice to take gas from our own state, but I don’t think that it’s worth the risk, so we should just keep taking it from other countries.

3/20/2009

Martin S
SJHS, Stroudsburg, PA
The state can balance the its energy independence with ecological conservation by drilling the Marcellus Shale but putting restrictions as to what the do and how they do it. If they drill safely and possibly find another source of water, I’m sure that the environmental agencies wouldn’t mind. I do think the tax and economic benefits outweigh the costs of the environment. Yes, the state should put greater oversight on miners and treatment operations. I think if we used water from maybe another source that would help, or if we cleaned the water after using it.

3/20/2009

Francisco
Stoudsburg Junior High School, Stoudsburg Pennsylvannia
Doing that is going to be pretty hard but the states need to save as much oil and energy as they can. The animals will get hurt when there is not a lot of water for them to drink. My idea is when it rains have a really big container for the water to collect a lot even though its going to take a lot of time. Three million gallons is a lot of water to take from local water sources. The positives for the tax and stuff are equal. There are too many animals for us to just take there water. I’m against that idea. We should save that gas so when we really need it because three trillion gallons are a lot. We need to put way more people watching over it because people are greedy enough to take some and sell it. To balance it out will be very difficult. Fracking will cost tons off money and water which really hurts our economy and debt.

3/20/2009

Zach
Stroudsburg JHS, Stroudsburg PA
The state can balance energy independence with ecological conservation by getting natural gas and other fuels in safer less expensive ways. The tax and economic benefits do not outweigh the potential damages to the environment. The state should place greater oversight on miners and treatment operations to prevent damage to the environment. The best way to negative impacts on local streams and lakes would be to not use as much water from the area or not use the fracking process at all. Pennsylvania can take advantage of the domestic energy production while not compromising the environment by using a more ecologically friendly method of mining.

3/20/2009

Kevin S.
Stroudsburg JHS, Stroudsburg, PA
The state can balance energy independence with ecological conservation by finding other natural sources to depend on for uses such as the heating of homes and electricity. Because some day in the future this source will soon become less abundant than it is now, we will have to find yet another source for every day electrical needs. I don’t believe that the economic benefits outweigh the potential costs to the environment. I think as a nation we get enough economic benefits and we wouldn’t be getting that much money but in the meantime, we would be damaging Pennsylvania’s natural resources and the environment wouldn’t be the way it is today. The state should place a greater oversight on mines in the case that they do decide to illegally mine the natural gases or to pollute all of the natural resources. I think that finding a more abundant source of energy would be a perfect way to prevent a negative impact on our local streams and lakes. I think that if we use solar or wind power to generate common electrical items than it would be not only great for the environment, but it would be much more cost efficient, and would conserve all resources.

3/20/2009

Leonard
NEHS, Philly/PA
I think we should consider the possibility of actually making use out of the fact that the area we live in contains natural gas. We do have the energy companies who have the advanced drilling technology. And since we depend on our gas on other countries we pollute the environment as well because it would be impossible not to. So if we decide to actually use this way and drill our own gas for our country to use then we wouldn’t depend on others for it. I think we should do it ourselves rather than depend on other countries to provide us with gas. At the same time we would save money since we have to pay other countries to provide us with gas

3/20/2009

Nina S.
NEHS, Philadelphia PA
When it comes to the energy independence from foreign countries, I believe that we must take some risks. If we didn't have to depend on other countries for our needs, America would be free to do what is right when certain situations arise instead of worrying about staying on the good side of the countries we need. If we have the resources at our disposal, then I think we should use them. If we don't use them now because of the worries of pollution, when are we ever going to use them? Will we ever take the risks we need to take for America to be independent? I believe that if God has given us what we need, we should use it.

3/20/2009

Brian R.pd.2
nehs, philly
I think we should wait until we have even better drilling technology so that it would have a less damaging affect on the enviroment. Even if it gives us more money in the short term, in the long run the cost of the damage on the enviroment would out weigh the short term benifits. I dont think the government should destroy the environment just to make money, but save the environment and another place to drill that wouldnt damage the environment.

3/19/2009

Peter L. pd. 5
Northeast High School, Philadelphia
I believe tapping into the Marcellus Shale now would be a bad idea. For one, the damage to the environment around it could have catastrophic consequences. If we do drill, we risk the fact of contamination of local streams and wild life, which may also affect the water we drink. In additional at this point being, gas prices are significantly low compared to the last decades. With demand for oil still remaining at an all time low, it would not be so bad for us to continue getting oil from foreign ations. Instead, I believe this cheap oil drop back is providing us a chance to invest heavily on alternative fuels for the future which could create hundreds of jobs and slow down global warming. However, we may drill in the Marcellus Shale only when oil prices rise to a point of irrationality, as long as we can drill it safely without harming the environment.

3/19/2009

LeQuan C. PD5
Northeast High School, Philadelphia, PA
I believe that we should find a way to become energy independent and have alternatives for foreign oil. However, I don't think this should come into place at the expense of harming the environment. If we continue and finish the drilling process there will naturally be damage to surrounding environments and we can't afford to pollute our streams and lakes. These are our sources of water yes they are renewable but nobody will want water from the lakes and streams if they are polluted. I think our best bet is to, as harsh as it sounds, use other people's oil and leave the Shale alone. If tapping into this Shale will help us economically but at the same time harm our environment then I don't think it is worth it.

3/19/2009

Mengan
Northeast High School, Philadelphia
As of right now in our country we are facing a recession and we should not do more damage to our environment as it already did. By continuing to purchase oil from foreign country this can help to prevent us from spending more money in the future to fix the damage we will create by tapping into the pocket of natural gas. Also, it is not worth it to tap into the massive pocket of natural gas in exchange for United States being less dependent from foreign oil with the damages it will create to our environment like the lakes. It is much worse situation if we pollute the environment, and the streams of water that all fishes live in. Also, creating more damage to our environment is the opposite direction for the United States because our goal is to save energy and keep our environment clean and looking fresh. The taxes and economic benefits may outweigh the potential costs of the environment but I believe that the money that is left from taxes and the economy should be use in more significant and necessary things rather than to use it on this.

3/18/2009

Delgr Y. Pd. 2
Northeast High School, Philadelphia
I think that we should continue to use foreign oil, because these days the most important thing to us is to go green and protect our environment. If we tap into the pocket of natural gas, even with the best oversight on miners and treatment operations, there will still be some leakage resulting in damage to the environment. It would probably cost less to buy the oil than to extract it and then pay to remove the damage.

3/18/2009

Sally J. ADVSS pd:2
northeast high school, philadelphia/pannsylvenia
Well deffinetly they can ask people to contribute to help and save natural gasses, because I think we are goint to be needing it in the future. State can absolutly comertialize the problem and try to make at least a bit of badget to help improve all the problems. Well I truly don't think tax and economic benefits outweigh the potential costs to the environment, because taxes and benefits go mostly into our own public uses. States should definitely look after on miners and treatment operations, they in my opinion are one of the things we should take care of. We should try to help out keep earth clean and healthy so it may provide the same service it has for all this time, and streams and lakes are important cause they provide energy and also is household to some of natures creatures.

3/18/2009

Semi period 2
Northeast High School, Philadelphia PA
I think we should consider the possibility of actually making use out of the fact that the area we live in contains natural gas. We do have the energy companies who have the advanced drilling technology. And since we depend on our gas on other countries we pollute the environment as well because it would be impossible not to. So if we decide to actually use this way and drill our own gas for our country to use then we wouldn’t depend on others for it. I think we should do it ourselves rather than depend on other countries to provide us with gas. At the same time we would save money since we have to pay other countries to provide us with gas.

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