Environmental Protection Agency Announces Plans for Marcellus Study

The Environmental Protection Agency has laid out its plans to study the Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry by visiting sites where companies are working, and also looking back at locations where drilling has already taken place. The Allegheny Front's Ilana Yergin has more on this and other Marcellus news.

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HOST INTRO: The Environmental Protection Agency has laid out its plans to study the Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry by visiting sites where companies are working, and also looking back at locations where drilling has already taken place. The Allegheny Front's Ilana Yergin has more on this and other Marcellus news.

YERGIN: The EPA will conduct seven case studies as part of the department's research into hydraulic fracturing. The agency is trying to determine the industry's effect on drinking water. Three studies will focus on the shale industry in Pennsylvania-two in the drilling hotspot of Washington County, one in the Bradford area. The other studies will take place in Louisiana, North Dakota, Texas and Colorado.

Range Resources Spokesman Matt Pitzarella says his company is looking forward to actively participating in the study.

PITZARELLA: We believe a further look at the facts and science will ultimately reveal that gas drilling is a very safe process not only to communities but to our environment and if the studies uncover things that we could be doing better, we're going to be the first people to get in line to embrace those new standards and practices.

YERGIN: The EPA hasn't announced an official start date for the studies, however, they do believe the first round of results will be released by the end of next year.

In Morgantown, West Virginia, Northeast Natural Energy is suing the city over a recent ordinance passed by the city council. The law bans horizontal drilling in the city as well as within a one-mile radius of the city limits. Northeast Natural Energy's request for a temporary injunction to stop the law from taking effect was denied by a Monongalia Circuit Court judge, but the city is preparing for an ongoing legal battle. Morgantown's City Manager and CEO Terrence Moore says the state law on which the city based the ban is vague and untested in the courts.

MOORE: The desired outcome, as I see it, is clarification that municipalities within the state of West Virginia do in fact have this ability and does have the opportunity to move forward anytime that there is a concern regarding health, safety and welfare imminent.

YERGIN: For The Allegheny Front, I'm Ilana Yergin.