"I am only a free letter subscriber, but on shale oil and gas, I have seen quite a bit written lately about the negatives associated with hydraulic fracking.
"Yes, it can be a game changer, but if we pollute our groundwater supply to access it - and it appears that we do - then perhaps it ends up being a non-starter.
David Fuller's view If you use the Search facility (see menu upper-left, fourth item down - single or two-word searches are most effective) you will find a wealth of material on this subject in our Archives, including 83 entries on shale gas.
Environmental concerns have often been mentioned in Fullermoney, including this recent reply following an email on shale gas, posted on 7th June:
My comment - Thanks and good point. Although the video is 18 months old, the initial, non political points are still relevant today. I see this subject as primarily a regulatory matter. The extraction of any fossil fuel is a nasty, dirty and dangerous process. The tradeoff is that we need technology, common sense and personal responsibility to extract these important fuels reasonably safely, and sensible regulation to ensure that precautions are taken to reduce environmental damage. Unfortunately, this will never satisfy everyone. The IEA report above also addresses these issues.
I also mentioned environmental concerns in this item posted on 16th May, saying:
There is no environmentally friendly production of fossil fuels but we cannot do without them. The challenge is to reduce the polluting effects.
Eoin posted a very good US Geological Survey: "Water Resources and Natural Gas Production from the Marcellus Shale", on 4th June 2010.
Far from being a non starter, shale gas and shale oil are already game changers in North America. Many countries have commercial reserves of these important resources. We can be reasonably certain that most will develop them, commencing with reserves that are in areas of low population density and away from important aquifers.
Shale gas and shale oil will never be clean energy to produce or use and there will always be legitimate environmental concerns. There will also be some careless, cowboy drillers so good regulation and accountability are necessary to protect populations. These vital resources can be extracted sensibly and the technological process should continue to improve. Shale gas and shale oil extraction technologies can help to transform global energy supplies in twelve to fifteen years, benefiting vastly more lives than they endanger.