The Marcellus Impact Goes Beyond the Marcellus

Penn State is reaching out and out across the Marcellus Shale. And the impact of how the natural gas in the Marcellus Shale is "developed" will ripple out across the planet. PolicyInnovations.org shows how shale play development is playing out across the planet from Pennsylvania and New York to Poland to China. It is possible that what Pennsylvanians do and don't do can be imitated the world over.
Whether the American shale gas experience can be a model for environmental best practices in other countries is debatable. Professor Terry Engelder of Pennsylvania State University told the Financial Times in an interview this June that industry-wide standards are difficult to enforce because fracking techniques will vary based on geological differences and local conditions surrounding the shale formations. He also said that developing best practices would require industry leaders to "experiment" and that a zero-tolerance policy toward environmental damage is unlikely to be achieved.

If environmental and health problems are considered inevitable side effects of shale gas drilling, municipalities may have a hard time embracing the resource. Amid the global hype, signs of resistance to shale gas development are emerging overseas. Hundreds of South Africans protested the exploitation of the country's Karoo shale reserves, citing concerns over water supply.

Will companies and governments learn to avoid past mistakes and take advantage of shale gas without collateral damage? Will public fear become more widespread and bring exploration and development efforts to a halt? On a global scale, questions remain as to whether shale gas can fulfill its potential as an energy miracle or if it will instead become another resource curse.
What's happened already might indicate that the best practices aren't good enough. What do you think?

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