Federal panel calls for greater environmental concern in gas drilling

A panel convened by the federal government has issued a call for the oil and natural gas industry to take place a greater emphasis on potential environmental damage when drilling, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

Health, safety and environmental concerns have always loomed large in the energy industry, between the often dangerous working conditions of coal miners and the very dramatic, public impact of oil spills. 

But the emphasis has shifted recently to the natural gas industry, with the rise of the process of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. Pumping pressurized mixtures of chemicals with fluids or sands to loosen gas deposits in the bedrock, substantial concerns have been raised that the process could contaminate nearby water aquifers, underground water reserves that provide crucial supplies of drinking water. 

The panel commented on a report released in November, noting that several of its recommendations regarding improving public understanding of the issue and cooperation with regulators have not yet been implemented. 

The New York Times reports that a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency suggests fracking could have already cause some water contamination in Wyoming, where traditional well capping techniques might have proven insufficient to prevent leakage of methane.

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