The assessment models the likely impacts of energy development over the next 20 years, with a focus on the new energy types that are most likely to impact Pennsylvania’s forests — natural gas drilling in the Marcellus shale formation, commercial wind turbines and harvesting of forests for biomass energy, as well as the new infrastructure that will be required to get this energy to consumers.
The first findings, which investigate the impacts of natural gas and wind, have been shared, and additional results from the ongoing research will be made public in the coming months.
- About 1,800 Marcellus natural gas wells have already been drilled or permitted in Pennsylvania, and as many as 60,000 more could be built by 2030 if development trends continue.
- By the end of 2010, approximately 500 wind turbines were generating energy on Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Front and Appalachian ridges, and between 750 and 2,900 more would need to be built by 2030 to meet the state’s renewable energy goals.
- The cumulative impacts of both natural gas and wind could result in development in the majority of Pennsylvania breeding habitat for the vulnerable black-throated blue warbler and in most of the watersheds of the state’s remaining healthy brook trout streams.
- About 40 percent of the most ecologically valuable large forest blocks in Pennsylvania — as identified by a recent study conducted by Conservancy scientists and partners — could see impacts from energy development.
Getting Involved, Making a Difference
The Nature Conservancy strongly supports an energy future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, improved energy security and affordable prices. Renewable energy sources, as well as energy efficiency measures, are essential components of an energy approach which will benefit our economy and our environment.
But energy development of all kinds can impact the environment if it isn’t well-planned. With the new information, we hope that energy developers, conservation groups, policymakers and local leaders can work together to ensure that we produce the energy we need with the least possible harm to our priceless natural resources.