Friday, May 27, 2011

Natural Gas "Fracking": Public Enemy #1

We've been told that natural gas as an energy resource is a positive step towards the future and an environmentally-friendly energy source. Unfortunately, that is certainly not the case with the natural gas industry's use of "fracking," a horizontal drilling practice that injects chemicals and water miles underground in order to release natural gas. Currently, there is virtually no regulatory mechanism for keeping tabs on the environmental devastation caused by this practice.

recent article rightly points out some of the negative environmental repercussions and health issues associated with this practice: "There are many reports that identify negative effects from fracking, including: thepoisoning of wells, aquifers, streams and soil; the detrimental health effects to people living near the drilling sites." The article also cites a Cornell University study that found natural gas to be more harmful to the environment than even the dirty coal industry.

If you live anywhere near the mountains, then your state is probably complicit with the natural gas industry, and fracking is occurring in your backyard without any regulation. The Eastern section of the country has a massive natural gas reservoir called the Marcellus Shale, and drilling has begun in earnest in multiple states. Currently, my state of West Virginia has no environmental regulations to rein in the natural gas industry; fracking can and is occurring here and elsewhere, unfortunately. Further, as with the coal industry, many prominent politicians, including our governor, are "in bed" with the natural gas industry and do not favor any "pesky" regulations keeping tabs on it. Environmental problems have already occurred because of fracking, and regulation of this industry is desperately needed.

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