The Politics of Natural Gas Production

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The Politics of Natural Gas Production In 2010, roughly 25 percent of the nation’s energy came from natural gas, a “fossil fuel” which American consumers and businesses heavily depend on for transport, light, and heat (Squire 6). As the U.S. population increases, so do the country’s energy needs. Political debate over how the U.S. can meet those needs has slowly simmered for several decades, escalating exponentially when the energy supply grows short. Disputes over just how clean natural gas is, as opposed to coal, dominate headlines and presidential campaigns alike. During the presidency of George W. Bush, a bill exempting oil and gas companies from federal environmental restrictions was passed, thus paving the way for natural gas companies to expand production across the nation utilizing a new drilling technology, enabling easier extraction of shale gas. The drilling process of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” has become synonymous with controversy. Why? Fracking involves injecting dangerously toxic chemicals, mixed with large quantities of water and sand, into wells at extremely high pressure, to release natural gas. Promoted by the natural gas industry as a cleaner, safer alternative to coal, the process of fracking has made shale gas plentiful, which sounds to some Americans as the best answer to their energy prayers. However, the negative consequences associated with the extraction of natural gas through fracking, including environmental hazards and threats to public health, far outweigh the benefits. Natural gas drilling can cause water contamination. In his Academy Award-nominated documentary Gasland, filmmaker Josh Fox conducted interviews with families in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Wyoming whose drinking wat... ... middle of paper ... ...Premier. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. Rao, Vikram. Shale Gas: The Promise and the Peril. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI, 2012. Print. "Researchers Taking a Look at Health Effects of 'Fracking.'." Nation's Health 42.2 (2012): 14. Academic Search Premier. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. Roth, Sammy. "Why Move Beyond Natural Gas." Sierra Club. Sierra Club, 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. Squire, Ann. Hydrofracking: The Process That Has Changed America's Energy Needs. New York: Scholastic, 2013. Print. United States. Environmental Protection Agency. Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Natural Science. Washington: Office of Atmospheric Programs, April 2010. Web. 27 Nov. 2013. Weeks, Jennifer. "Energy Policy." CQ Researcher 20 May 2011: 457-80. Web. 16 Nov. 2013. Wilber, Tom. Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2012. Print.

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