The Weatherly Area Middle School was the scene recently of a presentation on the Marcellus Shale which was to help provide students with the pros and cons of drilling for natural gas.

The presentation was coordinated by Partners in Education with gifted support teachers from Hazleton and Weatherly.

Students from Hazleton and Weatherly were given the opportunity to study the environment and how drilling may affect it.

The students did their own research on specific subjects related to drilling and then shared their information with everyone attending the presentation.

To help with this research, the Hazleton and Weatherly students participated in a live Skype presentation with students from Canton High School in Northern Pennsylvania.

Drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale has already been going on in the Canton area for at least four years.

The students from each school exchanged questions and answers with each other about the drilling's effects on the local economy and environment.

The Marcellus Shale is a deep geologic formation stretching through more than 95,000 square miles in parts of Pennsylvania Ohio West Virginia and New York.

The deposits are found between 4,000 and 8,000 feet below the ground surface and lie beneath approximately 60 percent of Pennsylvania's landmass.

Guest speaker Amy Randolph, Senior Geologic Scientist DCNR, presented a slideshow illustrating all aspects of Marcellus Shale and drilling specifically related to Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania has produced oil and gas since 1859 when Col. Edwin Drake successfully drilled the first 70 foot deep oil well in Venango Ccounty.

Since then more than 350,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled in the state,

Landowners usually lease for a negotiated amount of money for each acre of land lease but the owner of the land surface can be different from the owner of the gas or coal or other minerals below the ground surface.

Rich in organic material, the Marcellus Shale is expected to contain enough natural gas to fuel our nation with cleanburning energy for decades, but at what cost ?