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In September, 13 families from tiny Lenox Township in northeastern Pennsylvania sued Southwestern Energy Company. The plaintiffs, whose homes sit atop a slice of the 95,000-square-mile bedrock expanse known as the Marcellus Shale, allege that in drilling for natural gas, Houston-based Southwestern contaminated the local water supply with chemicals that caused them to suffer neurological disorders and gastrointestinal illnesses. It isn’t the first lawsuit to label Marcellus drilling a health hazard. And if the recent rush by energy companies angling for access to the natural gas lodestone keeps up, it’s unlikely to be the last.

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