Drilling for the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves in central Pennsylvania has been controversial from the start, and that hot-button debate shifted to Philadelphia City Council today.

Environmental activists packed City Council chambers to hear hours of testimony on the Marcellus Shale gas drilling and its potential impact on Philadelphia’s drinking water.

Councilman Curtis Jones at one point asked a panel of experts from Temple, Drexel, and the Academy of Natural Sciences about what’s driving this:

(Jones:)  “We are going to make a lot of people rich (by allowing drilling in the state), is that correct?”
(Panelists:)  “Yeah.”  “Yes.”  “That would be a fair statement.”
(Jones:)  “People on the radio can’t see you head nodding.”
(Panelist:)  “I would say it sounds reasonable.”

Some activists argued that the Philadelphia Water Department should be opposed to any such drilling, saying it could affect drinking water drawn from the Delaware River.

Department officials say they’re taking a cautious, measured approach as the statewide debate drags on.

Story Contributor:  KYW City Hall Bureau Chief Mike Dunn