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Shale gas development in the East has taken on new dimensions in recent years, where energy companies are drilling for gas in the Marcellus and Utica shales. Underlying parts of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, and Maryland, the shale deposits have made the region a hotbed for "fracking," a process that allows the extraction of gas from deep underneath the ground by injecting water, sand and chemicals under high pressure. Now, energy companies are seeking to move produced gas from shale gas fields to eastern markets, clearing significant corridors through areas containing high quality trout habitat that have yet to see impacts from shale gas drilling. The industrialization of remote areas -- clearing forested areas for well construction, building new roads and pipelines, and withdrawing water from rivers and streams -- all have the potential to have profound effects on fishing and hunting in the region. Goals for 2016 include advocating for and achieving protective designations for 250 miles of streams in Pennsylvania, ensuring that proposed major interstate pipelines avoid or minimize impacts to coldwater habitat across the east, and training 100 volunteers to monitor native and wild trout streams before, during and after pipeline construction.
TU advocates for responsible energy development across the country. Here, in a region with some of the best trout water in the country and many of the East's best remaining forested habitats, it is critical that shale gas and pipeline development be done in a way that protects these places special to sportsmen and women for future generations. Among the ways TU is working to protect our fish and wildlife resources:
• advocating for strong regulations to govern shale gas and pipeline development at the state, local and federal levels;
• working with TU’s grassroots membership to intervene in regulatory proceedings and give a voice to native and wild trout streams;
• monitoring gas drilling and pipeline impacts across critical watersheds through a cadre of over 500 trained volunteers as part of the Eastern Shale Gas Monitoring Program;
• promoting sound management practices with willing industry partners;
• partnering with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in its Unassessed Waters Initiative, assessing streams and sharing information with the state, with the goal of finding and protecting those waters holding trout;
• facilitating the Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation, a coalition of more than 280,000 sportsmen and women who are working together to identify and mitigate the impacts of shale gas drilling on hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor sporting activities; and showcasing 10 Special Places in the eastern shale gas region where expanding shale gas drilling operations could pose risks to fishing and hunting opportunities, and offering recommendations on what sportsmen and women can do to promote responsible energy development and ensure the protection of these areas.
TU has been a staunch advocate for the protection of fish and wildlife habitat when it comes to shale gas exploration. From testifying at U.S. Senate hearings on energy and natural resources and participating in setting standards for best practices of energy development, to bringing the voice of sportsmen and women to state capitals in the region, TU is a valued voice when it comes to protecting coldwater habitat from shale gas drilling impacts. Highlights from 2015 include:
• TU advocated for and attained wild trout stream designations for 300 streams in Pennsylvania, ensuring that these streams receive more stringent protections under the state’s water quality regulations when shale gas and pipeline infrastructure is proposed for these watersheds.
• Educated more than 1,000 hunters and anglers across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York about the potential impacts from shale gas and pipeline development and opportunities to engage in protection of sensitive fish and wildlife habitat.
• TU formally intervened in four major interstate proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, giving TU a seat at the table when decisions are made about if and how development will occur in trout watersheds.
• Organized and held 14 shale gas and pipeline monitoring training sessions for TU members and other volunteers across Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia.
Katy Dunlap, Eastern Water Project Director,
Eastern Communications Director
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