Rules to the Left of Me, Regulations to the Right, Here I am Stuck in the Marcellus with You


In recent months no other shale gas formation in the United States has drawn as much attention as the Marcellus.

The formation, which covers parts of several states, most notably Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia, has been hotly debated in state legislatures as lawmakers seek to accommodate the environmental concerns of citizens while not shackling the industry too much.

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is planning to call a special session in December with the intent of getting new natural gas regulations established, reports the Charleston Daily Mail.

Lawmakers have reportedly debated the potential legislation for two years and the committee in charge of it recently reached an agreement. However, it is believed by some that Tomblin will tweak the bill, putting its passage in jeopardy.

"The governor's changes could throw it up in the air again," state Delegate Tim Manchin told the news source. "That bill is a very delicate balance and there are delegates and senators who have strong feelings about various provisions in that bill and changing those can certainly jeopardize the bill."

Industry officials are reportedly not enthused with the bill, which will require gas wells be created at a certain distance from water sources, among other rules.

Still West Virginia hasn't jumped to harsh decisions in the same manner as other states have when it comes to fracking. New Jersey placed a one-year moratorium on the practice in August.

New York also has a moratorium on fracking but Governor Andrew Cuomo said he hopes new regulations will be in place by next year, which will put an end to the halt, reports Reuters.

Regardless of what rules and regulations states and muncipalities put on fracking the fact remains that the Marcellus Shale presents a tremendous opportunity. In August, new estimates from the U.S. geological survey put the amount of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas in the formation at 84 trillion cubic feet.