I have heard the breathless predictions of Marcellus promoters, saying that Pennsylvania is sitting on huge reserves of natural gas and we'll make billions of dollars, create oodles of jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, get rich and enjoy a rosy future of "clean natural gas."
I'm wary of the claims of investors and drillers who stand to benefit from this development, just as I'm wary of the claims of used car salesmen.
What Marcellus boosters do not mention is that most of the jobs are short-lived, for drillers and truck drivers who have historically been Texans, not locals, that drilling brings in hundreds of trucks, noise around the clock from drilling equipment and potential long-term air and water pollution.
I recently saw the movie "Gasland" that showed examples. Chemicals are added to water that is pumped underground during fracking, and a third or more of frack water comes back up. Not only does the fracking release methane, but also benzene (a carcinogen), salts and heavy metals. Some people's well water has become contaminated.
The natural gas industry needs to be very strictly regulated to prevent long-term pollution of our groundwater. We can't trust the gas industry to police itself. Considering that this natural gas has been safely underground for millions of years and the price of energy is destined to increase in coming years, it makes sense to take our time in extracting this resource, waiting until we can do it safely.