A recent well explosion in Pennsylvania which blew contaminated gas and water 75 ft in the air has renewed awareness, and in some cases anxiety, over the highly productive yet controversial natural gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
Conventional gas drilling processes use approximately 80,000 gallons of water per well. However, the new method of horizontal drilling combined with “fracking” uses millions of gallons of water that has been laced with a cocktail of sometimes toxic chemicals. These new techniques have opened up gas resources in many previously inaccessible areas, and dramatically increased U.S. natural gas production.
However, environmental pollution concerns have steadily increased in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, across which spans the giant Marcellus Shale formation. New York has already limited drilling in certain areas because of fears of possible groundwater contamination in watershed regions. It is likely that similar regulations will soon be put in place to ensure protection of the environment as fracking drilling expands.