What the Frack? Natural Gas from Subterranean Shale Promises U.S. Energy Independence–With Environmental Costs
DISH, Tex. — A satellite broadcasting company bought the rights to rename this town a few years ago in exchange for a decade of free television, but it is another industry that dominates the 200 or so residents: natural gas. Five facilities perched on the north Texas town’s outskirts compress the gas newly flowing to the surface from the cracked Barnett Shale more than two kilometers beneath the surface, collectively contributing a brew of toxic chemicals to the air.
It is because of places like DISH (formerly known as Clark) and similar sites from Colorado to Wyoming, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a new review of the practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. From compressor stations emitting known human carcinogens such as benzene to the poor lining of wells after drilling that has led some water taps to literally spout flames, the full set of activities needed to produce natural gas gives rise to a panoply of potential problems. The EPA study may examine everything from site selection to the ultimate disposal of the fluids used in fracking.
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