There’s a natural gas boom underway – and it comes with tradeoffs between benefits and possible costs.
The U.S. produced a record amount of natural gas in 2011, 23 trillion cubic feet, largely because of hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling. Pennsylvania alone more than quadrupled its natural gas output 2000-2010, to 573 billion cubic feet – enough to heat every home in the state for 18 months. Shale gas well output grew faster still, quadrupling nationwide 2007-2010.
Natural gas exploration has controversial aspects. Each hydraulic fracturing well is drilled with 2 to 4 million gallons of fluid – fluid that commonly includes hydrochloric acid and other chemicals, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Some states allow it to be recycled into the public water supply; others require it to be buried in underground tanks. Studies are assessing any health and environmental effects.
How do you feel about the issues raised by more productive, successful natural gas exploration? Check out our photo gallery for more information, consider the pros and cons in “What Do Others Say?”, then add your two cents in the discussion thread below.