The other negative may be even bigger: Fracking, especially hydraulic fracturing, comes with serious environmental questions of its own, specifically how drilling and extraction affect air and water quality. Other issues may surface over time.
Predictably enough, the lines drawn around this issue are starkly antithetical: Proponents say the waste water generated in the process can be disposed of or treated safely; opponents say run-off, industrial accidents and cost-cutting make contamination inevitable.
The debate will be heightened soon enough. The Environmental Protection Agency's study of fracturing's impact on drinking water and ground water resources is due out in late 2012.
Yet, in a classic mix of American entrepreneurial vigor and opportunistic innovation, the clean tech industry — long the foe of Big Carbon — is already at work developing ways to reduce or eliminate the environmental downside.
Boon or Bane?
So, is the shale gas boom a natural wonder or a man-made disaster?
It's a question that needs to be addressed alongside other big issues such as energy independence and national competitiveness in an increasingly unfavorable global economy.Page 3 of 5 | Prev Page | Next Page