There are current moves by energy producers to increase natural gas production in Pennsylvania, upstate New York, Ohio, and West Virginia in a formation called the Marcellus shale.  The extent of this formation is shown here:

Extent of the Marcellus Shale

Extent of the Marcellus Shale

(The image is from a publication by the National Park Service, Potential Development of the Natural Gas Resources in the Marcellus Shale New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio; December 2008.)

Leases are being bought up to extract gas from this area.  As one might expect, many people are concerned about potential negative environmental consequences of this activity.  Websites tracking issues and events in upstate New York include The Marcellus Accountability Project for Tompkins County (MAP-Tompkins) and

I attended the local, large university, Cornell, and am following these events with some interest. Thus, here at Environment Memo we are going to provide some perspectives, based on experience, that might help in considering some of the issues associated with this activity.