This article in the Pocono Record has it about right regarding Marcellus shale drilling:
Few will benefit directly, while many will have to live with the impact on the environment.
Although the article does a fair job of covering a public meeting about gas drilling, it has some glaring misconceptions: one without attribution, as well quotes from a gas industry representative that don’t hold water. Without attribution, the article states that hydrofracking is
a 60-year-old process, but new chemicals make extraction from difficult sites more efficient.
This statement begs the question of whether chemicals are necessary at all, and, if so, whether benign fracking chemicals can be used (and, better yet, mandated), as discussed previously here. My understanding is that directional horizontal drilling is the improvement, not chemicals, and that this targeted drilling and pressurization approach was developed only in recent years.
The Executive Director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania, Louis D’Amico, is quoted in the article as having said at the meeting that
site disturbance from drilling is minimal and[he] rejected the claims of contamination to well water. …
I guess he’s not yet seen the movie, “Gasland,” discussed here.
Moving into dangerous territory,
D’Amico said the process uses about one-half of 1 percent of chemicals in the fluid mix, most of which reacts within the shale and essentially becomes an inert material.
This sort of statement is a base attempt to distract from the seriousness of pumping hazardous chemicals into the subsurface, which is a non-starter. This idea is readily put in perspective by pointing out that human sewage is 99.9 % pure water, as the Washington Post saw fit to print here.
And there’s nothing inert about what results: the fluids pumped in must be pumped back out (to allow the gas to exit), and they are an expensive proposition to manage because, if anything, they are more contaminated than when pumped in, due to dissolution of subsurface constituents.