Development of natural gas and wind resources in the Marcellus shale region could cover up nearly 1.3 million acres of land, an area bigger than the state of Delaware, with cement, asphalt and other impervious surfaces, according to a paper published this month in the scientific journal PLOS One.
The study, conducted by two scientists from the conservation organization The Nature Conservancy, predicts that 106,004 new gas wells will be drilled in the Marcellus region, based on current trends in natural gas development. The region includes parts of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Virginia.
Gas development entails the well sites themselves, as well as new roads leading to drill sites, pipelines to transport the gas and other related infrastructure. Each well pad, the researchers found, has a total direct or indirect impact on approximately 50 acres of land.
The study also projects that 10,798 new wind turbines will be built in the region, which will have a footprint as well, albeit much smaller. Each turbine has a direct or indirect impact on approximately 15 acres of land, the study found.
The development will also affect 1.1 million acres of forest.