The Influence of Marcellus Shale Extraction Emissions on Regionally Monitored Dry Reactive Nitrogen Deposition

Justin G. Coughlin, Lucy A. Rose, Daniel J. Bain, Emily M. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the United States (U.S.) from large stationary sources, such as electric generating units, have decreased since 1995, driving decreases in nitrogen deposition. However, increasing NOx emissions from emerging industries, such as unconventional natural gas (UNG) extraction, could offset stationary source emission reductions in shale gas producing regions of the U.S. The Marcellus Shale in the northeastern U.S. has seen dramatic increases in the number of wells and associated natural gas production during the past 10 years. In this study, we examine the potential impacts of shale gas development on regional NOx emission inventories and dry deposition fluxes to Clean Air Status and Trends (CASTNET) sites in Pennsylvania and New York. Our results demonstrate that the current distribution of CASTNET sites is ineffective for monitoring the influence of Marcellus well NOx emissions on regional nitrogen deposition. Despite the fact that existing CASTNET sites are not influenced by UNG extraction activity, NOx emissions densities from shale gas extraction are substantial and are estimated to reach up to 21 kg NOx ha-1 year-1 in some regions. If these emissions deposit locally, UNG extraction activity could contribute to critical nitrogen load exceedances in areas of high well density. (Figure Presented).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3542-3549
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 21 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by an appointment to the National Energy Technology Laboratory Research Participation Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. GEO 1202631 awarded to E.M.E.. We gratefully acknowledge the University of Pittsburgh's Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. We would like to acknowledge Katherine Redling, Kassia Groszewski, Zhongjie Yu, and Chris DeNardo for their assistance throughout the course of this work. We would also like to thank Anirban Roy and Sherry Bogart for their data clarifications.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


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