JULY 1, 2010, 3:31 P.M. ET
By Christine Buurma Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
"NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Against the backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, onshore natural-gas production in Pennsylvania is facing sharper scrutiny as concerns about the environmental impact of oil and gas drilling build.
Pennsylvania has become a focal point amid a nationwide boom in natural-gas production as lawmakers, residents and environmentalists struggle to determine how to reap the economic benefits of drilling without causing irreparable environmental damage. In 2008 alone, Pennsylvania garnered $2.95 billion in economic benefit as drilling flourished, according to a study by Pennsylvania State University, and the governor this week cut a deal with lawmakers to start taxing output. But a series of well accidents has raised fears about water contamination and prompted calls for a statewide moratorium. While the spill in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico may bode well for some onshore energy producers, the accident has ratcheted up worries about the environmental threat from oil and gas production.
"Gas drilling is an industrial activity, and there are going to be some environmental impacts even when it's done well," said John Hanger, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, or DEP. "What we're not willing to accept is gas migrating off-site, sloppy handling of materials, leaks and spills."' More>>>>