Odorless, colorless: The quiet rise of American Big Gas
A special series from Fortune
Natural gas has quickly and quietly grown to become a major source of energy for the United States, thanks to a controversial technique called fracking. As Fortune writes:
The number of horizontal drilling [or fracking] rigs skyrocketed from 40 in the 1990s to over 500 in 2008. The country currently consumes just under 23 trillion cubic feet of gas per year and half of that amount is produced from wells drilled within the last 3.5 years, using the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking.
Doug Morris, a reserves and production expert with the Energy Information Administration’s Office of Oil and Gas, says, “you go back ten years and nobody predicted this boom in shale gas.” Yet the boom has brought with it an unprecedented chance to investigate and regulate the potential environmental damage fracking can cause, thanks in part to New York State’s de facto moratorium on fracking, about which the EPA held public hearings in Binghamton, New York in September.
Fortune attended the hearings and spoke to dozens of regulators, industry executives, landowners, citizens, economists and other experts to assemble a look at fracking’s role in our national energy strategy. Here are the results of that effort:
After a public hearing in New York on the controversial process to extract natural gas, the EPA’s science policy director offers insight on the government’s role in determining its safety. By Shelley DuBois
Gallery: The Top 10 American energy policy shapers Much of America’s energy policy and regulation is still defined by the report generated from the then-secret meetings of Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2001 Energy Policy Task Force By Katie Benner