So far, USGS has looked at 14 Pennsylvania counties where drilling is occurring, and several more reports are planned before the end of the year.
The latest studies look at 4 counties with comparatively little drilling activity.
Landscape consequences of natural gas extraction in Beaver and Butler Counties, Pennsylvania, 2004-2010 found that, in these two counties:
Agricultural and forested areas are being converted to natural gas extraction disturbance. Beaver County had little natural gas development between 2004 and 2010 and, therefore, little related disturbance. On the other hand, Butler County had more, although not extensive, natural gas development divided relatively evenly between Marcellus and non-Marcellus drilling. Despite the small amount of natural gas development in Butler County, it has slightly altered the landscape structure and forest conditions.
Landscape Consequences of Natural Gas Extraction in Lackawanna and Wayne Counties, Pennsylvania, 2004–2010 found that:
Neither Lackawanna County nor Wayne County was the location of substantial natural gas development. While the few sites developed were located in forest or on agricultural land, the effects of such development were too small to register with the metrics in use.
As I’ve written when earlier studies in this series came out, this is important work, even in these early years of the Keystone State’s shale gas era. Pennsylvania’s future depends on how well this latest wave of Pennsylvania resource extraction is planned, executed, and regulated.