A new report released by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources revealed that the proliferation of invasive species is a greater environmental danger associated with shale gas exploration than water contamination.
Despite widespread concerns the report states that there is no evidence to link shale gas exploration with the deterioration of water resources.
The department’s first Shale Gas Monitoring Report outlines its efforts to track, detect and report on the impacts of gas development on Pennsylvania’s state forest lands.
“People may have different perspectives on how monitoring is defined, but they want to know that staff are on the ground observing and managing gas development activity that is occurring in our state forests,” the Department’s Secretary Ellen Ferretti said. “The breadth and depth of this report demonstrates that shale gas production on state forests is being carefully managed.”
DCNR’s program monitors for a broad set of values, including: water; wildlife; plants; invasive species; incidents; air; landscapes; soils; revenue; energy; recreation; community engagement; forest health; timber products; and infrastructure.
“The intent of the report is to present information in as objective a manner as possible. Oftentimes trends or effects are not evident for years or decades. Despite that, there are some findings that can be gleaned from this initial report,” Acting Deputy Secretary for Parks and Forestry Dan Devlin said.
Some insights included in the report:
- Water is the resource that most people cite when expressing their concerns about shale gas production. Although incidents have occurred, the monitoring data shows that water quality has not been affected due to this activity.
- Approximately 1,486 acres of forest has been converted through 2012 to facilitate gas development. This number is lower as a result of a management decision to place this activity within or close to existing infrastructure where it is more noticeable to the public, but requires less forest disturbance.
- Areas of exploration tend to create conditions conducive to an invasion of unwanted plant species or pests. The report clearly shows that invasive species need to be carefully managed and controlled. DCNR leases require that companies address invasives.
The full report is available for download from the DCNR website.
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