Oil, natural gas and coal bed methane industries have quietly grown alongside the long-entrenched coal business in the state, but as production ramps up across the nation, West Virginia's natural gas drilling is drawing increased attention.
(maps and more after the jump)
SkyTruth downloaded and analyzed data from West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection to create the maps below. Each show the extent and concentration of permits issued across the state between 2005 to 2011. Note that a "permit" does not necessarily indicate that the well has been drilled, or fracking has taken place, but in the hot Marcellus Shale play we think it's likely that action follows the permit approval more often than not, and quickly.
|All oil and gas well drilling permits issued by watershed from 2005 to 2011|
|All hydraulic fracturing (fracking) permits issued by watershed from 2005 to 2011 |
So, what effects will the rising gas industry have on the state, especially in highly permitted areas like the Middle West Fork River watershed? Unlike coal, natural gas drilling, especially that employing hydraulic fracturing methods, is relatively unexplored regulatory and environmental territory.
Although the industry may be decreasing unemployment in some localities, some citizens are worried that in the haste to drill proper environmental regulations have not been implemented to account for the risks and impacts associated with the new technologies of horizontal drilling and fracking.