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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Three shale layers now being developed in PA; need for smart planning ever more apparent

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Tim Puko reports on the growing development of a third layer of shale beneath Pennsylvania - the Upper Devonian - which joins the Marcellus and Utica shale layers in production in the Keystone State.  It offers a convenient excuse for me to bring up subjects related to oil and gas development that I blog about frequently - landscape industrialization, cumulative impacts,  and the essential need for the gas industry to practice - and regulators to require - comprehensive development planning.

Puko writes that experts believe that "Drillers will target the Marcellus first, and, in most cases, come back for the Upper Devonian later, maybe generations from now."

Read that again.  Generations from now.

What will Pennsylvania look like after several more decades of oil and gas exploration? Indeed, if you accept the proposition that we will likely dig up every last hydrocarbon and burn it before switching to zero-carbon energy, what will other shale gas states look like generations from now?

 A 2011 EIA shale map

A 2012 USGS map of previously unassessed East Coast shales

Next Monday, I'll be addressing Maryland's Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative Advisory Commission to make the case for comprehensive development planning. (Full disclosure: I consult to Maryland's Department of Natural Resources on its approach to shale gas development.) Maryland has recently proposed requiring comprehensive development planning for unconventional gas development, which would place the Old Line State among the vanguard of states in the management of this activity.  I hope this proposal is adopted. It would be an example to the nation. And it's also good business.

What will shale gas states look like generations from now?  The answer is up to all of us.

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