A Wednesday forum will focus on the potential impacts of natural gas development on the environment and what regulatory agencies are doing to deal with those impacts.
Hosted by the Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Lycoming College Clean Water Institute, the public forum will be held at 7 p.m. in Room G-11 of the Heim Science Building at Lycoming College.
The forum features a panel of speakers from the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Penn State Cooperative Extension and the national and state council of Trout Unlimited, according to Walt Nicholson, a director with the local chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Each panelist will talk about the gas drilling industry from their organization's perspective, Nicholson said.
DEP is responsible for regulating the industry as far as water quality, while SRBC regulates the consumptive use of water, he said.
The Penn State Cooperative Extension has been involved in an extensive education outreach to local and state landowners regarding a variety of issues involving natural gas development.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Forum on environmental impact of gas exploration
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Room G-11, Heim Science Building, Lycoming College
A representative of the national Trout Unlimited will be on hand to discuss what the social and economic impacts of the mineral and natural resource development have been in Pennsylvania over the last 100 years, Nicholson said.
"The implications being, if you don't listen to history, you are doomed to repeat it," he said of the presentation.
The issue of how the environment will be affected by natural gas development has been a concern since the discovery of vast natural gas reserves embedded deep in the ground in the Marcellus Shale formation, which runs from southern New York state though Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia.
The gas once was considered too difficult to profitably remove from the shale, but the development of technologies such as horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing changed that.
Horizontal drilling allows more exposure to the Marcellus Shale surface area, which runs in horizontal bands deep beneath the ground.
Hydrofracturing - also called "fracing" - involves the pumping of pressurized water, sand and chemicals into the ground to pulverize the shale and free the gas trapped within it. Each fracing operation can use millions of gallons of water, which has raised concerns about gas development's impact on water resources and issues concerning its disposal.
The forum is the first of two hosted by Trout Unlimited and the Clean Water Institute that will focus on natural gas development.
In March, industry representatives will be on hand to discuss how they are going to develop natural gas in a responsible way and what watershed associations and other organizations can do in conjuction with those efforts, Nicholson said.
"(The interest in the Marcellus Shale) is an amazing development," he said. "The ramifications are tremendous."