Gas Drilling Boom Taints Water Supplies, Say Critics

DIMOCK, Pa., Dec. 8 (UPI) — Local U.S. drinking water supplies are being tainted in a push to drill for natural gas in previously untapped areas, critics say.

In some parts of the United States, such as Pennsylvania’s Appalachian hills, a new extraction method called hydraulic fracturing has resulted in contaminated local water supplies, The New York Times reported.

The tapping of new natural gas supplies through hydraulic fracturing in shale beds has boosted the country’s potential reserves by 35 percent in two years, but the drilling boom has also brought methane contamination to populous areas that have little history of coping with risks posed by drilling, the newspaper said.

While such cases of groundwater contamination have been few so far, environmental groups say that’s because local governments have been slow to react to the boom and aren’t looking hard. Gas companies, however, told the Times that while some of the concerns are valid, their hydraulic fracturing technology is essentially safe.

“It’s a very reliable, safe, American source of energy,” John Richels, president of the Devon Energy Corp., told the newspaper.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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