One of the great success stories of recent years is U.S. energy production, particularly natural gas. This week, an Associated Press article joined the lengthening parade of reports touting the growing acceptance and economic importance of this domestic fuel. As welcome as natural gas growth is, however, Americans should not lose sight of the sobering realities that attend this advancing story.
Foremost among the caution flags is the potential for the gas-drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing to damage major sources of drinking water.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has undertaken a large study of hydraulic fracking. Fracking, as it is known, is the process in which water, sand and chemicals are used to fragment underground rock, unleashing trapped oil and gas.
While the jury is still out on the environmental risks of fracking — with few confirmed cases of contamination — it is important to recognize that the industry faces other potential hurdles, as well.
Despite the challenges, natural gas is gaining against the dominance of crude oil. We find this encouraging, but urge the industry and government to do three things: