Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

The Fight over Fracking

The biggest technological advance in energy development over the past decade has occurred not in solar or wind or nuclear power but in natural gas development. Hydraulic fracturing has allowed energy companies to access shale-gas deposits that were previously considered impossible to drill for. The U.S. potentially has a century's worth of natural gas, with companies already hard at work drilling in new areas like Pennsylvania.

But environmentalists have serious concerns about the risk of water pollution associated with hydrofracking — and many of the people who've leased their land for drilling are having second thoughts. As a result, fracking has become the hottest environmental issue in the U.S. — much more so than climate change — and there's a real possibility that the expansion of gas drilling could be blocked in states like New York. The U.S. could be entering a golden age of gas, but only if it can figure out the environmental challenges.