PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The latest salvo in the war over natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania is a finding by environmental groups that the Susquehanna River is the nation’s most endangered.

It’s a dubious distinction, says Andrew Fahlund of the group American Rivers, that a river system now regarded as “a gem” (which supplies drinking water to six-million people) is also the most endangered by the effects of drilling.

Getting at all the gas in the Marcellus Shale formation requires a technique called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Fahlund says fracking poses two potential threats: the soup of toxic chemicals and the huge amount of water pumped down wells so natural gas comes up.

“I think that’s the fundamental question,” Fahlund says. “Can development be done without endangering the drinking water for six-million people? And if the answer is ‘yes’, then we’re not going to stand in the way of domestic energy production. On the other hand, drinking water doesn’t have any substitute.”

Last year, the Delaware was named most endangered river for many of the same reasons, but Fahlund says there’s been multi-state progress on that front. Though, he adds, the threat hasn’t gone away.

Reported by John Ostapkovich, KYW Newsradio 1060

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