June 8, 2011

John Hanger Addresses Marcellus Shale Drilling Concerns




Written with Monte W. Holland

      Marcellus shale gas drilling won’t ever be as devastating to the environment as coal-fired power plants have been.

     John Hanger, former secretary of the state Department of Environmental made that comment during a presentation on Marcellus shale gas drilling at Ligonier’s (PA) Town Hall on June 7, 2011. About one hundred people attended the meeting on the pros and cons of extracting the estimated 168 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the rock formation…Hanger compared energy generated with natural gas to energy generated by oil and coal, and said that the less reliant the country becomes on the latter the better.*

     My husband, Monte, heard Hanger speak. Below are his comments on the presentation:

    I was there for the presentation. It was excellent. The article (Greensburg Tribune-Review*) has accurate statements from the talk. However, Hanger said much more.

     He stated his biases about energy consumption—he is a huge proponent of conservation in all phases of energy use.

     Hanger ranks energy sources from the best to worst:

  • solar
  • wind
  • hydro
  • gas
  • petroleum
  • coal. 

     In Pennsylvania he is encouraged by the continual growth of wind farms. I believe he said there are fifteen going and four more under construction.

     Hanger pointed out that in the significant studies about fracking is that significant non has ever detected fracking fluids, which are inserted at 5000 to 8000 feet, reaching the water table. He said that the water table is at 1000 feet or less.

      The major problem with the Marcellus operation is that it is the spilling occurring at the surface that impacts the land and water, and destroys the roads. To minimize this spillage there needs to be tough enforcement of the environmental law. Hanger favored the extraction tax (Pennsylvania is the only state without one), noting that many of the drilling companies are willing to pay it because they are concerned with their public image. He favors the tax being designated one-third each for use at the

  • local level for impact there
  • state environmental impact
  • general fund.

     He offered a kudo to the current DEP head for his recent announcement that the drillers now are not releasing any fracking fluids into streams, but either recycling or treating and recycling the fluids, by moving them from one completed well to the next.

     It was a great presentation. Some of my facts may be a little off because I am depending on my aging memory, but I hope I caught the essence of what John Hanger was sharing.  





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