Watchdog GAO weighs in on shale gas drilling safety

Shale-gas drilling and fracking site in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

By Ken Silverstein


Newfound shale gas deposits are getting touted as the next economic tidal wave that will carry the country to prosperity. True?

With both the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the industry’s Potential Gas Committee agreeing that there are 2,600 trillion cubic feet of shale gas beneath the ground, the possibilities would appear endless — enough to supply homes and businesses for the next century. However, risks exist to both the air and water, including the potential for tainting surface and groundwater supplies resulting from the accidental release of chemicals.

“Oil and gas development, whether conventional or shale oil and gas, pose inherent environmental and public health risks, but the extent of these risks associated with shale oil and gas development is unknown, in part, because the studies GAO reviewed do not generally take into account the potential long-term, cumulative effects,” says the General Accountability Office that examined the environmental and public health risks with shale gas fracking.


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