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Regulation of Water Pollution from Hydraulic Fracturing in Horizontally-Drilled Wells in the Marcellus Shale Region, USA

Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Publication Date
  • Horizontal Drilling
  • Hydraulic Fracturing
  • Water Pollution
  • Governmental Regulation
  • Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Law
  • Political Science


Hydraulic fracturing is an industrial process used to extract fossil fuel reserves that lie deep underground. With the introduction of horizontal drilling, new commercial sources of energy have become available. Wells are drilled and injected with large quantities of water mixed with specially selected chemicals at high pressures that allow petroleum reserves to flow to the surface. While the increased economic activities and the outputs of domestic energy are welcomed, there is growing concern over negative environmental impacts from horizontal drilling in shale formations. The potential for water contamination, land destruction, air pollution, and geologic disruption has raised concerns about the merits of production activities used during extraction. This paper looks at the impacts of horizontal drilling using hydraulic fracturing on water supplies and takes a comprehensive look at legislative and regulatory approaches to mitigate environmental risks in the Marcellus shale region. The overview identifies shortcomings associated with regulatory controls by local and state governments and offers two policy suggestions to better protect waters of the region.

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