Will Soil be the New “Water” in the Fight to Stop Marcellus Gas Drilling in NY State?

MDN finds it necessary to periodically post disclaimers such as the following: We think drilling can be done safely, but we must remain vigilant. The more we know about drilling, the more we are convinced it is a good thing for the economy and the nation’s energy future. We are not anti-science, we’re not blind, we do care about our neighbors and we welcome opposing opinions. No one wants water supplies to be poisoned, and no one wants enjoyment of the great outdoors to be spoiled by drilling activity. And it doesn’t have to be that way if drilling is done right.

With that said, the other side of the drilling debate seems to stop at nothing to instill irrational fears into the general population under the guise of science. Put the name of a prominent educational institution next to a committee or group, invoke the name of someone with a Ph.D., and viola, instant credibility. And if you dare say, “but the Emperor has no clothes” out loud, you’re shouted down as an industry shill or accused of being greedy at others’ expense. Such loving and caring people those who disagree with us.

Since “your water will be poisoned” doesn’t seem to be getting sufficient traction these days as a scare tactic, we now find out that soil is “sensitive” (bet you didn’t know that!) to drilling activity:

Researchers have developed the Cornell Soil Health Test to evaluate soil response to management on different types of land. It’s intended to assess changes due to gas drilling work.

The construction necessary to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in southern New York could affect the soil around drilling sites and pipeline right-of-ways, says a Cornell soil expert who has helped develop a new soil health test to assess such impacts.

“Soil is sensitive to heavy construction, and while there are a lot of construction standards and practices, there isn’t really a standardized way to measure construction impacts on soil behavior,” said Robert Schindelbeck, a Cornell extension associate in crop and soil sciences and member of the Cornell Soil Health Team.

To fill in that information gap, Schindelbeck and his team have developed the Cornell Soil Health Test (CSHT), a set of tests designed to evaluate soil response to management on different types of land.*

*PhysOrg.com (Apr 1) – New test assesses gas drilling effects on soils