Welcome to West Virginia Sierra Club
This site is intended as a basic introduction to Marcellus shale gas drilling in West Virginia. There is a vast amount of information about shale gas out there. If you want to dig in, see the links in the left bar.
For an industry perspective, see the Marcellus Shale Coalition http://marcelluscoalition.org/.
The Marcellus shale is a layer of sedimentary rock roughly one mile below the surface of the central Appalachians.
This shale contains significant quantities of natural gas, and new technologies have made it feasible to develop. The production of commercial quantities of shale gas requires millions of gallons of water to drill and hydraulically fracture (frack) the rock. Sand and chemicals are added to the water, which is forced into the shale under very high pressure. The wastewater that returns to the surface containing formation brine from the earth and the chemicals used for fracking must be treated and disposed of properly to avoid contaminating soil and water.
Natural gas is a cleaner burning fossil fuel than coal, and it is a domestic resource. Development of shale gas means expansion of an infrastructure of pipelines and compressor stations; a secondary grid to the powerlines being built to distribute electricity.
For a more extensive overview see the USGS report “Water Resources and Natural Gas Production from the Marcellus Shale."