Thursday, December 31, 2009

What we don't know

Gas Drilling is one of ProPublica's Hot Topics. Be sure to follow their links to associated stories. In northeast British Columbia, environmental risks from gas production compound, while government eliminates oversight. The result is another ticking bomb in BC. Similar threats grow elsewhere with North American production increasing from shale formations.

It takes brute force to wrest natural gas from the earth. Millions of gallons of chemical-laden water mixed with sand -- under enough pressure to peel paint from a car -- are pumped into the ground, pulverizing a layer of rock that holds billions of small bubbles of gas.

The chemicals transform the fluid into a frictionless mass that works its way deep into the earth, prying open tiny cracks that can extend thousands of feet. The particles of sand or silicon wedge inside those cracks, holding the earth open just enough to allow the gas to slip by.

Gas drilling is often portrayed as the ultimate win-win. . .

ProPublica article by Abrahm Lustgarten

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