By Daniel J. Harrison, Esq.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is an oil and natural gas extraction method. The process involves injecting fluid into subterranean rock formations at high pressure. The high-pressure fluid produces a fracture that allows crude oil and natural gas inside dense rocks to flow into a wellbore for extraction at the surface.
In 2008, the fracking industry set their sights on various areas across the U.S. for gas exploration and drilling, including most of western Pennsylvania that sits above the Marcellus Shale.
While supporters of the oil and gas drilling site to related job growth and the prospects of associated U.S. energy independence, residents near the hundreds of fracking pads in the Keystone State often tell much different, alarming stories.
Over the years, ample residents of Washington, Lycoming, Susquehanna, Bradford, Allegheny, Butler, and Tioga and Greene counties have shared these stories with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and in filed civil action complaints seeking to hold drilling operators accountable for various injuries and property damages.
Many residents who live near drilling operations complain of associated ground water and soil contamination, decreasing air quality, flooding, tremors akin to earthquakes, constant noise and light intrusion, and exposure to toxic chemicals that caused significant health problems, including cancer and gastrointestinal, circulatory, respiratory, developmental, and neurological disorders.
Despite these complaints, the oil and gas industries continue to drill throughout western Pennsylvania, subjecting the surrounding communities with significant potential health risks.
Therefore, fracking-related litigation will likely continue throughout the Commonwealth and in other regions across the U.S. where hydraulic drilling operations remain.