This paper provides insight into municipalities' decisions to lease watershed lands for Marcellus shale gas exploration in Pennsylvania. The focus was on officials' motivations to lease subsurface mineral rights; knowledge on expected benefits and risks of leasing, including public drinking water supply contamination; and decision-making processes for balancing benefits and risks. The data were collected through personal interviews. Municipalities' decisions to lease watershed lands were found to be influenced by the following: when they were approached about leasing, what was learned from their or other municipalities' past experiences, communications with other parties, their resources and networking, water monitoring actions and plans, and ability to balance the goals of providing safe affordable water with the desire for leasing revenues. Study recommendations included as follows: municipal officials should provide timely information to citizens in advance of decisions; resources should be increased for public education and participation; increased efforts should be directed toward networking among municipalities, staff training, and water protection plan development; government agencies and other organizations should increase funding of water quality baseline studies; and municipalities should include the full cost of water monitoring in leases and consider other actions to ensure.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Environmental Science(all)