Monday, April 5, 2010

"NOW" on natural gas fracking and contamination of groundwater

PBS's NOW had a story this week on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", the practice of drilling into and then fracturing natural-gas-bearing rock with a combination of compressed water and chemicals in order to release gas deposits that can't be extracted through conventional drilling. Hydraulic fracturing is being touted as a way to access large amounts of a cleaner fossil fuel within continental US borders, and so reduce dependency on both foreign oil and domestic coal, but the health and environmental costs of this procedure are still unknown, with some disturbing patterns of illness and contamination being seen in regions where fracking wells have been drilled, including Montana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Here's an interview with filmmaker Josh Fox, whose Sundance-honored film "Gasland" spotlights the downside to this supposedly cleaner fuel, including chronic illness, tapwater fireballs, and lack of regulatory oversight to protect groundwater and health. You can read more about the show on the NOW site or visit the film website here.

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