In the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, geologic formations such as the Marcellus and Utica shales hold significant amounts of natural gas. Favorable market conditions along with refinements in the use of directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques have lead to the rapid expansion of natural gas development in the states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. However, exploitation of this shale gas has the potential to harm fish and wildlife resources.
Natural gas development involves the construction of drilling pads, access roads, pipelines, holding ponds and various other infrastructure projects, and, as with other large-scale projects, habitat fragmentation and soil erosion and sedimentation are primary concerns. And because drilling and hydraulically fracturing gas wells is a very water-intensive operation, water withdrawals from certain streams and rivers, or at certain times of year, can harm aquatic species, including federally listed freshwater mussels . Other aspects of the natural gas extraction process, such as the handling and disposal of waste liquids and other chemicals, has the potential to contaminate the environment and harm fish and wildlife.
The Service coordinates closely with other Department of the Interior bureaus, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state agencies, and other organizations to reduce the effects of shale gas development to our natural resources.
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