Yesterday, a group of environmental organizations, led by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, filed a joint petition requesting that certain federal agencies, with oversight from the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), prepare a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) assessing the cumulative impacts of drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation in the Chesapeake Bay states and promulgate regulations based on the findings. The petition asserts: "Drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation has significant impacts within the Chesapeake Bay states and to the 35 national park units that lie within or in the vicinity of the formation – and those impacts demand that action be taken by the federal government to determine the best way to protect human health and the environment."
This petition comes as yet another expression of concern about the rate at which, and manner in which, natural gas development is progressing in various areas around the country, as technological improvements to techniques such as fracking and horizontal drilling make previously uneconomical sources of natural gas much more profitable. One aspect of that concern is the belief that enough is not known about the possible environmental effects of these practices, though they hold significant promise from an economic perspective.
The petitioners are the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment (ACEE), Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), Shenandoah Valley Network (SVN), The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS), and Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR). The federal agencies addressed by the petition are USEPA, Department of Interior (DOI), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transportation (DOT), the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).