The Environmental Issues Committee

Marcellus Shale Study Guides 2008 to the Present

In 2008, the Environmental Issues Committee saw a need to educate themselves about the new Marcellus Shale industry coming to Indiana County. As it became clear that the new technology affected Pennsylvania’s water, air, infrastructure, agriculture, forests, tourism, and economy, a study of the drilling process and its impacts was timely.

After identifying the issue, Indiana County League brought it to the attention of Leagues across PA. To do a formal study the local league made a proposal to the LWV PA at the state convention. the following was presented:

  • Need for Study of Marcellus Shale Gas Extraction: To educate members so that they can be informed participants in consensus and provide necessary data for formulating the ultimate position.
  • Scope of the Study: To understand the drilling process and its ramifications on Pennsylvania’s water, air, infrastructure, agriculture, forests, tourism, and economy.

The state convention accepted the proposal and the Indiana County LWV Environmental Issues Committee went to work to develop a series of five study guides between 2009 and 2010. The Guides were:

  • From the Ground to the Customer,
  • Environmental Impact (including Air, Water and Land),
  • Economic Impact
  • Taxing Natural Gas Extraction, and
  • Regulation and Permitting.
All the study guides and addendums can be found at this link:

In June 2009, the completed guides were distributed to all the local PA Leagues. Twenty-six leagues took up the challenge, organizing study groups, sponsoring public forums with experts representing various viewpoints, visited drilling sites, and participating in webinars and other presentations at various colleges and universities. Ultimately, over 350 people participated in the consensus process which arrived at a position to accept fracking but recommended instituting maximum precautions to protect the health of residents and workers.


Because shale gas extraction was a new technology, research was constantly developing. As a result, the Indiana County Environmental Issues Committee wrote addenda for each of the Study Guides with current and new information This was particularly true in the health field where new information emerged over time. Because of the emerging information on Health a new Guide, Shale Gas Extraction and Public Health, was written and adopted by the “Straight Scoop on Shale” and continues to be updated and reprinted.

The LWV state wide Position In Brief can be found at this link:

Study Guides and the Straight Scoop on Shale

For the past seven years the “Straight Scoop on Shale” project has updated the guide on a yearly basis for distribution at its annual conference on Shale & Public Health. The conferences take place in Pittsburgh in November, and are funded by Colcom Foundation and the Heinz Endowments through the LWVPA Citizen Education Fund. They are hosted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health.

Conference videos available at

Marcellus Shale Study Guide Links

Marcellus Shale Guides and Addendum

LWVUS stand on Marcellus Shale

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League of Women Voters Mission

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.