There are two sides to the coin in the development and growth of the shale gas industry. On one side, there are plenty opportunities for the growth of the economy, ushered in by the boons granted by an upsurge in the nation’s supplies for natural gas. As covered in previous entries, this advantage may give the US enough leverage to influence the global oil market and promote free-market principles.
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On the other side, there are the protests against the extraction of natural gas as the process used could do more harm to the environment than continued dependence on fossil fuels. Environmentalists argue that, because natural gas is mostly methane, if a lot of it escapes into the atmosphere, then it could trap much more heat in.
Fracking wells are known to leak and there are no conclusive studies yet that prove that the leakage amount is small enough not to affect the atmosphere and the climate. But even if it is indeed a small amount, the speedy growth of the industry could change the situation drastically.
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This is why experts argue that the shale gas industry could do much more with strict regulations in place. As shown by a pact made for fuel drilling in Pennsylvania, environmentalists have some conditions for the energy industry, and a cooperative relationship can indeed be achieved.
With the growth of the industry, it is important to put certain restrictions in place to direct the movement toward positive outcomes instead of continuing to do things haphazardly. The difference between the rules currently in place and better regulation isn’t very large, however, and with combined efforts of the industry, the government, and the citizens, better outcomes for the natural gas boom can be achieved.
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