Environment 360 - The highly productive method of natural gas extraction known as "hydro fracturing" has spread rapidly across the United States in recent years, opening up vast new reserves in Texas, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and other states.
Last fall, however, the process - also known as "fracking" - ran headlong into opposition from New York City. And for now at least, stiff resistance from the city, which fears the contamination of its pristine water supply in upstate New York, seems to have slowed the momentum behind this highly touted - and highly controversial - drilling technique.
The city's 90-page inventory of the possibly dire impacts of hydraulic fracturing has now become primary source material for a growing environmental backlash to the gas industry's rapid assault on the huge gas-rich geological formation known as the Marcellus Shale, which underlies large portions of rural Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York State.
Acting in part on concerns raised by the New York City report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that it would conduct a nationwide study to assess the environmental damage caused by hydro fracturing. The EPA's larger conclusion - that the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on human health, the environment, water supply, water quality, wastewater treatment, air quality, and management of radioactive materials, "warrant further scientific and regulatory analysis" - was not one the industry wanted to hear. Read more.