New York Times Exposes Dangers of Natural Gas Extraction

  • Posted on: 1 March 2011
  • By: JesseColeman

In a ground breaking expose of the natural gas industry, Ian Urbina of the New York Times chronicles the dumping of radioactive watewater into the rivers and streams of Pennsylvania, among other abuses.  The article describes how natural gas companies have taken advantage of lax regulation and unprepared regulators to thwart what few environmental safeguards exist to control gas extraction.  Natural gas is extracted through a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for short.  This process uses millions of gallons of water, which becomes contaminated with heavy metals, radioactive elements, and other toxins.  This wastewater must then be disposed of.  In Pennsylvania the waste has been dumped into waterways, upstream of freshwater intake for cities and towns. 

Here is a video describing the fracking process.  Keep in mind it was made by Chesapeake Energy, a company heavily invested in hydrofracking, so there is no mention of what happens to the toxic wastewater.


Natural gas has long courted a "green" image because gas is less carbon intense than coal and some other fossil fuels.  Gas companies have even gone as far as calling the burning of gas an inexpensive form of clean energy.  However, the cost of natural gas is enormous: polluted water, the release methane (a powerful green house gas), exploding houses and water wells, cancer, and waste of money and capital that should be going to real clean energy (i.e. solar and wind).