Marcellus Shale

Josh Woda helped lead the study into methane contamination linked to fracking.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

Nobody wants methane in their water.

“They saw when it gets to about 28 milligrams per liter, it could start degassing to a point where it could explode,” Josh Woda said.

In Lycoming county, Woda and other Penn State researchers found levels of methane much higher than that in a recent study into the effects of Marcellus Shale drilling.

But, because some methane can occur in water naturally, it’s been hard to say if its presence is a result of a natural process, or hydraulic fracturing – until Woda’s study.

Poet Julia Spicher Kasdorf and photojournalist Steven Rubin spent five years documenting Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania. The project became their new book, "Shale Play."
Zsuzsanna Nagy

Poet Julia Spicher Kasdorf and photojournalist Steven Rubin spent five years documenting Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania. The project became their new book, "Shale Play." 

We talked to them about what they’ve witnessed and how they decided to blend poetry and photography.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

This story began with a simple task: Let’s make a pipeline map!

Everyone wants to know where all the new Marcellus Shale gas pipelines are or will be. The new proposals have been piling up.  Many have poetic names like Atlantic Sunrise, Mariner East, and Bluestone. There got to to be so many they started to get numbers: Mariner East I, Mariner East II.

Julia Kasdorf
Penn State Univeristy

Julia Spicher Kasdorf is Professor of English and Women's Studies at Penn State University, and an accomplished poet.  She took a sabbatical last year to visit areas of Pennsylvania affected by Marcellus Shale development, and is now completing a collection of documentary poetry based on her interviews with local residents.  WPSU's Kristine Allen speaks with Kasdorf about her recent foray into "docupoetry."

State College Teachers Join Water Quality Testing Effort

Jul 31, 2014
Teachers looking at computer
Kelly Tunney / WPSU

Many people are concerned with the environmental impacts of Marcellus Shale Drilling. A group of high school teachers from State College are learning how to keep an eye on the quality of local rivers and streams so they can teach the skill to their students.

Recently, a group of earth science teachers from State College Area High School splashed through Black Moshannon Creek. Some wore waders, others just rolled up their pants to wade through the clear, rushing water.

Deb Eck stands in front of her trailer at Riverdale Mobile Home Park on the outskirts of Jersey Shore. Across the park, other residents who can afford it have their mobile homes moved elsewhere.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

At the very back of the Riverdale Mobile Home Park, farthest from the busy road out front, Deb Eck stands in front of her trailer. It’s perched on a bank overlooking the Susquehanna River, a view she enjoys.

“I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up to seeing this every day. You know?” Eck said.

Tim Ziegler next to construction sign on dirt road.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Marcellus shale drilling across Pennsylvania has expanded tremendously in the last couple of years. To extract the natural gas, companies drill straight down about 5,000 feet then shoot highly-pressured water mixed with chemicals and sand vertically through the shale to release the gas. It’s called hydrofracturing, or “fracking.” The whole process requires heavy equipment and millions of gallons of water to be trucked in over roads built to carry passenger cars.