PITTSBURGH (AP) — New data from energy industry analysts and the federal government show that the Marcellus Shale is about to become the most productive natural gas field in the United States, even though serious drilling only began five years ago.

The volume of Marcellus production suggests that in some ways there's no going back, even as New York debates whether to allow drilling in its portion of the shale. It also lies under large parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

Jay Apt, a professor of technology at Carnegie Mellon University, questions whether the bounty will fuel the growth of local industry, or whether it will be shipped to Canada, the Gulf Coast or even overseas, where the price of natural gas is much higher.