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February 1, 2013

'Marcellus' name has an interesting history

‘Marcellus’ name has an interesting history

Looking up “Marcellus,” you will discover a small village by that name in central New York. Settled in the late 18th century, this historic village is surrounded by the town of Marcellus, named after Marcus Claudius Marcellus, a distinguished member of a Roman plebian family. He lived about 268-208 B.C. and became a noted Roman general. One of his major conquests was the Sicilian city of Syracuse. In New York state, the town of Marcellus is just south of Syracuse and its protected water supply!

There is yet another “Marcellus” — an outcropping of rock near the town of Marcellus, named for that community. This is a unit of marine, sedimentary rock. Geologists have known for a long time about the Devonian black shale that is called “the Marcellus shale,” but only recently was it determined to be an undiscovered source of natural gas. In 2002 a gas company, Range Resources, may have begun the first Marcellus gas play when it drilled a well in the Marcellus shale in Washington County, Pa.

Since that beginning, Marcellus became a household word starting with claims of a bright economic future for communities, and energy independence for the nation. Pennsylvania went for it big-time! But soon, stories of contaminated water sources, sick animals and humans and scientific studies about the dangers of these new extraction methods have kept some areas from proceeding. 

Noise, traffic, disposal of toxic wastes, damage to roadways, degradation of both water and air qualities, damage to and loss of open space, natural areas and scenic views, decreased recreational opportunities, loss of agriculture, and other problems have made many towns rewrite their ordinances to protect their communities from heavy industry. How about your town?

And oh yes, the town of Marcellus has just passed a ban on fracking!

Marion J. Karl

Cooperstown

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