The rapid growth of natural gas exploration and production in the Marcellus Shale areas of New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia has led to considerable focus on the implications of such activities on water resources. Concerns about the withdrawal of large quantities of water used for drilling, chemicals used in that process, and the disposal of produced water from Marcellus Shale wells have prompted a number of state regulatory proposals, as well as an ongoing study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") on hydraulic fracturing. West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman has recently suggested that his agency may develop a separate regulatory office solely to focus on permitting and oversight of Marcellus Shale wells, which involve the use of unconventional horizontal drilling to access gas thousands of feet below the surface. However, questions about the environmental effects of gas production from deep shale formations is not limited to water pollution control issues.
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