Feel like it was just yesterday you started hearing about drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale region? It probably was.
Hydraulic fracturing -- the method by which oil and gas companies extract natural gas from deep inside the earth -- wasn't even profitable until Dick Cheney snuck a clause into the 2005 Energy Policy Act, exempting hydraulic fracturing from all the major U.S. environmental oversight acts of the last 40years. It's only since then that companies have sought permits to drill and begun assembling the tools to do so.
Methods to issue permits differ slightly state to state, but there is a common thread: extraordinarily fast growth. Let this beauty of an animation from Penn State's Marcellus Center tell the tale of Pennsylvania, a key state in the Marcellus Shale region:
The Marcellus Shale may have appeared out of nowhere. But now it's here and it's huge.
For more information on hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale, read John Gramlich's excellent recent OnEarth/Stateline.org articles, "In Pennsylvania, Natural Gas Industry Flexes Its Muscle," and "Environmental Worries Shadow Natural Gas Expansion."