Journalism in the Public Interest

Natural Gas Drilling Debate Heats Up: Read Our Guide

The possible dangers of gas drilling, including the process known as hydraulic fracturing, are drawing more attention from the media as gas drilling expands across the United States. Here’s a quick breakdown of the key issues, drawn from ProPublica’s reporting.


Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the fracking and natural gas drilling debate, with the documentary film Gasland nominated for an Academy Award and a front-page story in Sunday’s New York Times on the dangers posed by the technology.

The Times story underscored the findings of dozens of reports that ProPublica has published over the past three years, adding new details from previously undisclosed government documents about the amount of radioactive water produced by drilling.

The increasing public interest in the possible dangers of gas drilling comes as the world’s energy companies are placing a multi-billion dollar bet on its potential. At the request of Vice President Dick Cheney, Congress exempted gas drilling from federal regulation in 2005. Since then, industry officials have successfully lobbied against calls in Washington to change the law, calls that have intensified in recent months with new attention on the issue.

For those who want to dive deeper into the complex science and regulatory issues of fracking, we offer a quick breakdown of the key issues.

It’s a subject reporter Abrahm Lustgarten has been covering for ProPublica since July of 2008. In the years since then, Lustgarten and his ProPublica colleagues have criss-crossed the country, interviewing drillers, industry officials and residents from Wyoming to Colorado to Pennsylvania. To listen to a podcast from Lustgarten, click here. To read a detailed account of one man’s fight against water contamination in Wyoming, click here. (Lustgarten received the 2009 George Polk Award for environmental reporting for his investigation of hydraulic fracturing as well as the 2009 Stokes Award for Best Energy Writing from the National Press Foundation.)

Below is a list of 15 of our most important stories, arranged by topic so you can quickly find the information you need. For a list of all the 100 or so stories we’ve written about gas drilling since 2008, you can also visit our gas drilling home page.


  • Is Marcellus Shale Too Hot to Handle? – A 2009 analysis of wastewater samples from wells in New York showed levels of radioactivity more than 250 times the federal drinking water standard.


Methane Contamination



Air Pollution

David Shulman

Feb. 28, 2011, 7:11 p.m.

I think your reporting on hydraulic fracturing is terrific, but the natural gas is needed. Do you want to mail in the keys to Saudi Arabia? You should, instead, focus more on remediating the issues you raised, rather being hypercriticial of the process.

I have been following Propublica’s reporting for a couple years now, and applaud their stories about this and other issues that need to be discussed.

But like Mr.Schuman, I think that in addition to identifying the potential problems, we need to address the solutions; and the experienced engineers armed with volumes of well information, can likely find solutions to these problems.

From an environmental standpoint, I think utilizing our gas reserves is vastly preferable to using energy derived from mountaintop removal.

Holly Stamper

Feb. 28, 2011, 7:37 p.m.

The solution to the problems with fossil fuel consumption is to stop it.  Our human energy should endeavor to stop the consumption of it.  Our money, our science, and our politics should be aimed at stopping the consumption of it.  And, we can tax the energy producers into doing just that.  I am not willing to give up my water, or even debate some paid liar about giving up my water.  Stop it!

With all due respect to Mr. Shulman and Mr. Jackson, I do not think this is a matter of merely “remediating” issues, or “addressing solutions.”

First of all, it is unclear at this time what types of remediation or solutions would actually be effective. Perhaps none would, because the reality is that in order to extract large amounts of gas from shale, the industry would have to drill intensively in areas that are heavily populated and/or in areas that supply water to heavily populated regions. Given the many tens of thousands of gas wells that would be needed, even if best practices were followed (and often they are not), accidents would be certain to occur, sometimes with results that would be costly not only in financial terms, but in human terms.

The other gigantic problem is that the entire culture of the gas and oil industry appears to be geared not toward addressing problems, or even admitting they exist, but rather toward covering up problems and denying responsibility when problems come to light. Unless you can change that culture (and good luck with that), no amount of regulation and remediation will be sufficient to avert disaster.

Two reasonable opinions and then a textbook example of the simple lack of understanding of the issue and unrealistic expectations possessed by the typical rank and file in opposition to hydrofracking.  Oh and the usual moral blackmail tactics levered in for good measure, using “drinking water” as the fulcrum.

There are things reported as fact that are wildly questionable and it’s everywhere you look in the reporting on blogs, online news outlets, newspapers, broadcast networks….  Do yourself a favor and read all sides of this, there are no end to the reasons why we desperately need a national energy policy that includes unconventional gas.

As Inspector Clouseau so succinctly put it, “Follow Zee Mooney”.
    Here in Pennsylvania, our legislators have prostituted themselves for millions in campaign financing, and lots of goodies like Super Bowl tickets,etc.
    Our newly elected governor (Corbett) campaigned on the promise of no new taxes on the industry, no moratoriums on drilling on state lands, and virtually handcuffing the regulatory agencies charged with overseeing the drilling activities.
    Only a cynic would think that the $900,000 in campaign contributions he received have any influence on his stand at all. The largest drilling operators’ group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, is headed by ex-Republican governor Tom Ridge, whose lobbying firm received more than 3 million dollars from the industry in 2010.
    It stinks to high heaven.

Holly Stamper says “The solution to the problems with fossil fuel consumption is to stop it.”
It must be nice to have the luxury of that position. No oil, no natural gas, no drilling, no coal, no wind farms, no LNG, no hydro (remember the snail darter), no nuclear!!! She seems to think the answer is sun?, wood?, electricity (aw shucks, that comes from fossil fuel powered plants).
For once, just once, I would like the Holly Stampers of this world to come up with an affordable, in this lifetime solution. It is easy to say NO; it takes brains to say HOW. Also, I assume she realizes there would be no plastics or other hydrocarbon-derivative products in her world. How about no roads - asphalt is a petroleum-based product
There is a problem (not the one that Holly Stamper thinks). As a first step, we need to access the energy resources that are already available in this country. It is now time to say “No More” to the Holly Stampers

Johnny Linehan

Feb. 28, 2011, 8:39 p.m.

Davis Shulman says we need the natural gas. Do we need it more or less than good health? Is it more important than clean water? Is our need so great that we will mess up the land, water and air that children grow up in? We make choices every time we buy anything. Unless you’re super-rich, when you buy this, you can’t buy that.

Well, our planet is not super-rich right now. It’s stressed and not getting so much Oxygen as it did from the fewer trees that are around. It’s aquifers aren’t so full as they were as we’ve pulled more up for industrialisation.

We chose water which is life, or we choose gas which is death. You choose. I have already done so. I chose life.

Johnny Linehan

Some of these comments remind me of the childhood admonition, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything.” So, if ProPublica doesn’t immediately have the solution to the problems endemic to fracking, they can’t raise the alarm about it? Pretty ludicrous, isn’t it? And since when is solving all the problems they report about the responsibility of journalists? It seems to me ProPublica is doing the good work of journalism here. The rest is up to legislators, regulators, companies and citizens.

Good decisions start with good information. If some people hold contrary opinions, they’re welcome to take their millions of dollars and “educate” the public. Oh that’s right, they’re already doing that.

It appears Schulman and jAKSON ARE PAID SHILLS of thre gas lobby.
I live in Canada. C-A-N-A-D-A.  The home of E-N-C-A-N-A.

This is one dirty company that will go to any length to extract. gas the size of the bottle cap.They are some of the worst polluters in canada together with Suncor They have done irrevocable attrocities against native indian land by runnig pipe lines and destroying their water tables to the extent many times their pipe lines were sabotaged by peple who live ear by.Entire comunities have been resettled by government (who is of course collecting billions in taxes from ENCANA to facilitate these marauding masqueraders of “GREEN ENERGY”.

These are companies that run on shareholder greed just like BP. (I told a lawyer friend of mine,who made a name for himself in the carbon tax credit game,that BP was one of the worst polluters .He never believed until the under sea blow up).Human lives are expendable for a few dollars. There is no difference between these companies and Blood Diamond Dealers in Sierra Leon,eventhough we in the “developed world “would like to brand them differently.The main issue is all ,I mean ALL OF THEM, will try to forego safety, pollution concerns and denegrate human lives in an effort to PUMP FOR CHEAP ,so that their quarterly earnings numbers look good and their bonuses and share portfolios keep growing.They are not alone. Every lobbyist,every politician are on the take.

Howard Orenstein

Feb. 28, 2011, 9:50 p.m.

It’s really very simple folks.  Until the politicians/legislators, state and federal regulators, CEOs of these fossil fuel oil companies, etc. are willing to permanently live in houses constructed on sites producing such natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, not one ounce of this natural resource should be used to meet our country’s energy needs.

Gunther Steinberg

Feb. 28, 2011, 9:51 p.m.

While the natural gas that becomes available is enormously valuable to the US and especially to the companies harvesting it, the contamination of the ground water is a terrible price to pay. Water will become more valuable that oil in some areas of the world and the US, and we cannot contaminate it without severe consequences.
  The Oil and Gas companies have been downplaying the damage they do despite the fact that the evidence is mounting that the “fracking” fluids penetrate very far and wide, contaminating drinking water. When Wyoming starts importing drinking water for much of the state, it will be too late.
New York and Pennsylvania have woken up. The people who leased their land in return for fat checks, will come to realize the downside of their actions, and probably have to leave their land. Poor trade of.

The article written yesterday by Lustgarten was a hack job.  The article published in the NYT was well written.  Comparing Lustgarten’s screed to the NYT article is like comparing Gomer Pyle to John Rambo.

Where was the Propublic Editor, just too intimidated by Lustgarten’s Polk award to rein the guy in?

We here in Pennsylvania have reached a new era, our Govener Tom Corbett and many others who were elected to office through large contributions from Gas companies, just blatantly bend over backwards to please their corporate cronies, defying all logic by exempting these companies from paying an extraction tax! A tax these companies are required to pay in every other state. The states oil and gas fund has been stolen (167million) from DCNR, our vast state forest in the northern counties are now up for bids for drilling, and willbe lost forever,we still don’t have 1 waste treatment plant in the state that can process the vast qauntities of flowback frac solution, and the DEP just sit on there hands while the future of Pennsylvania’s drinking water and peoples health remain in control of the same people, who say” trust us” even though they show us, time and again, they have only their own very narrow interest,in mind!

Read about the intensifying “Guy Earthquake Swarm” in Arkansas (Google it).  A common consensus seems to be that a likely cause is from the fracking disposal wells.  There has been some previous quake activity, before the wells, but there is still enough current correlation to be quite alarming, as the quakes are continuing to increase in intensity, day by day.  I think there have been about 700 near Guy since last fall, and one reached 4.7 on Saturday.  One survival site said that FEMA had been recommending earthquake survival kits to be on hand, available for distribution because of the increasing likelihood of a reactivation of the Madrid Fault Line.  While Guy, Ark. is not on that fault line, it’s not that far away.  I’m curious as to why the media is not picking up more on this story.

Anyone who says “we need the gas” probably owns shares of Halliburton, or is being paid directly.
Let’s be honest. These gas companies have the lobbying and cash power to buy anything, and anyone. They own the EPA. Own. They’ve already bribed hundreds of my neighbors (rural upstate NY) with insidious prospecting contracts.
I’m sick of hearing about finding a way to do this “safely.” There is no “safely.” Once they start drilling it will be so easy for them to short-cut or totally ignore ANY regulations. And they will. When everything is poisoned and there’s no drinking water, they’ll shrug their shoulders, tie up our pathetic lawsuits in court forever, take their billions and go on their merry way, leaving us with our worthless land and worthless houses.

Allan Brockman

March 1, 2011, 9:51 a.m.

Once again, a simple question. Where are the solutions?

Andrew Revkin (DOT Earth/NYT) and others have suggested that anyone seeking to “ban” gas drilling (and I suppose coal mountaintop removal,  and so on) need to then suggest, develop, and prove feasibility of alternatives.

  It is sufficient unto the day to try and take on the very hard job of pointing to the very serious problem of any large-scale industrial process (which is what shale gas drilling, fracking, and production is).

  And the problems are very multidimensional:

  Embedded and rich self interests of the energy companies and their political and regulatory buddies;

  The just incredible amount of spin and disinformation poured out by many of these same folks;

  The unfortunate and really seamy participation of some “Research One” universities in the unrelenting quest for research funding - any funding, any project, as long as the budget and the overhead paid is large;

  The lame and really awful participation of state Cooperative Extensions (at least in NY and PA).

  Whew, and that is just a review of the micro-political problems.

  It is quite sufficient to point to and analyze problems. It is not the job of any one citizen in a democracy to have to point to problems, propose solutions, and then implement them.

  It is quite enough to say, “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore.”

Stan Scobie, Binghamton, NY

Oil companies are not all monolithic corporations - The majority are relatively small, thinly staffed enterprises, managed by people trying to get hydrocarbons into a pipeline at the lowest possible cost.  A combination of poor drilling waste management practices, inconsistent regulatory enforcement / understanding, leaking wellheads and damaged or corroded pipelines are responsible for the vast majority of the issues reported in this Journal.  Were I Mr. Meeks, in the referenced ‘Hydrofracked’ article, I’d be mad as Hell, and prove my case with a gas or liquid chromatograph of the offending contaminants. He can ‘fingerprint’ the pollution ‘plume’ and trace it to a specific field and probably a specific well with certainty.  However infuriating this faulty well is, it has nothing to do with the process of hydraulic fracturing. You do your readers a disservice by the title of the article.  I challenge the majority of the respondents commenting above to get out from behind their desks, pull your head out of your IPOD and visit some of these areas this spring or summer in the Williston Basin, Pinedale, Wyoming - Rifle Colorado, etc. with an open mind and someone who knows what they’re looking at.  There are plenty of areas that are candidates for improvement when it comes to being a steward of the land that will show a more dramatic and immediate environmental benefit than sitting in your loft writing snarky commentary on a multifaceted issue.  There is much in the above commentary that express valid concerns.  Consider trying to define the causes of these problems and the scope of any solution before pointing fingers in a 360° circle at everything associated with the industry.

Mr.Brockman asks for solutions.  I agree with him that we need solutions.  HOWEVER, we are not going to find them working for the fossil fuel energy companies.  We have to put our very own human energy into finding the alternatives, and in the meantime stop wasting money ruining our air and water.  If those concerned about providing us with the energy we think we need won’t do it, the rest of us have to tax them into it.  It works in other countries, and they aren’t busy laying off the very same teachers that can educate the children to survive the destruction of the planet.  And, Yes, Mr. Brockman, that is just what I am talking about.  The Friends Of Extinction (FOE) work very hard to see it happen.  You cannot drink money, and you cannot breathe it, either.  You seem to be well educated, Mr. Brockman.  Use that education to find solutions instead of urging the rest of us to accept extinction as a way of life.

Our national dependence on fossil fuels? A simple question? Hardly. And to peevishly ask “what other solutions are there?” smacks of a lack of patience and a lack of consideration. Most of us are not engineers or scientists, and can’t say what the viability of any various alternatives are. But we know damn well there are safe and, yes, “affordable” alternatives out there. Solar? Corn? Hemp? It could be pigeon poo for all I know. I have no doubt that cheap and sustainable alternatives are routinely squashed as “not viable” by those who stand to make a whole lot of money from the status quo (and even more from drilling). The point is that hydrofracking is not safe. Just because the gas is there doesn’t mean we should destroy the land to get at it.

Where are the solutions?!!  Blah, blah.  Open your eyes people!  I know families right now, today, in America, in homes completely off the grid.  A combination of solar panels and micro-wind generators and learning to be smart about energy consumption is all that is necessary to have your home powered by renewable energy.  That would go a long way toward reducing our need for gas, oil or coal.  Plus, new cars are coming that can be recharged using solar power.  That would help immensely.  Plastics?  There are too many already, but at least some can be replaced by plant based resins.  Please remember that we were fine as a country before plastic began to take over our lives and landfills.  Just spend twenty minutes of your time researching alternative energy sources and solutions.  Then come back and tell us why we need to risk our drinking water for generations to come.

Look.  There will always be people who say, “That’s never going to work”  I’m sure there were people saying the same thing about the automobile a century ago.  But why as a nation have Americans adopted this negativity?  Any guesses?  How about the fact that most of the wealth in this country is heavily invested in the status quo.  We’re all cowboy about our freedom to buy guns and Chevy Battlestars, but where is this independent spirit when it comes to energy?  We have become programmed over the last 4 decades to suck willingly at the corporate teat.  They tell us what is and isn’t possible and we repeat it like mumbling zombies.  How much better would we feel as citizens to cut the powerlines to our homes and enjoy the satisfaction and freedom of controlling our own energy production and consumption?

When will the hyrdrofracking companies and their pals start selling fresh water back to us? It makes perfect sense to me: now that they’ve helped destroy our drinking water, they’ll be first in line selling off their fresh water reserves. The days of the $20 gallon of water are not far away.

Wow, so many comments from such clueless folks - Get a life everyone, try pulling together instead of tearing apart, and a solution that is acceptable to 85% of the people will appear.  The other 15% must be writing inflammatory comments to this article.

The *gas* comapnies want you to argue abour the *best* fossil fuel.  I do NOT accept their premise.  If you do, you agree to mass extinction.  Just ask the folks at FOE ( Friends Of Extinction).

Don KIngsley

March 1, 2011, 2 p.m.

The short term attempt is conservation. The long term problem is overpopulation. Any ideas?

Global effort to educate Global effort to empower women.  Global access to contraception.  Next problem?

Too many are babbling away needing to criticize the critics who are pointing out there are dangerous problems.  But isn’t it a bit like being on a sinking lifeboat and trying to identify (criticizing) the problems. Finally all agree there is a hole, and immediately grab whatever is available that can plug it up and stop the leak.  Then we might work on finding a way to get to shore and then oh yeah, start using the oars. 

I think the critics of natural gas drilling are trying to stop those sitting on the hole from busily chattering away and want to plug up the leaks.

Too many are babbling away needing to criticize the critics who are pointing out there are dangerous problems.  But isn’t it a bit like being on a sinking lifeboat and trying to identify (criticizing) the problems. Finally all agree there is a hole, and immediately grab whatever is available that can plug it up and stop the leak.  Then we might work on finding a way to get to shore and then, oh yeah, start using the oars. 

I think the critics of natural gas drilling are trying to stop those sitting on the hole from busily chattering away and want to plug up the leaks.

Bruce Smithhammer

March 1, 2011, 7:52 p.m.

Direct causation can be difficult to prove with a lot of the issues stemming from loosely regulated oil and gas development. But at a certain point, sufficient correlations, especially when they are consistently being noted in different regions of the country concurrently, should be enough to demand change.

You can’t tell me that when people in Wyoming, Colorado and Pennsylvania all experience undrinkable tap water, after years of it being perfectly fine, and that it coincides with oil and gas development in the immediate area, that there is no connection. Rational thinking should put the onus on the companies to disprove a connection at that point, not on the individuals to prove one. But as is too often the case, greed precedes logic.

When people ask “where are the solutions”, we need to first find out what the problem is that they are trying to solve.  The nature of the question being asked determines the nature of the answer.  What problem is “natural gas” the solution to?

Anyone who doubts that there is a connection between the hydraulic hydrofracturing and the poisoning of the water should view the film"Gasland” which is a prize winning documentary.  It contains interviews with the people who are experiencing the horrific results of this process on their land.  There has to be other solutions to obtaining gas that we need.  Or do we really need it?  The price we pay is our lives.  We need clean water in our beautiful city of New York.

Some people here dont get the idea of journalism it seems, Propublica is no drilling company and has no expertise in it, imo its quite stupid to expect a journalist to come up with technical solutions for this… (and even if propublica came up with a solution, i woudnt trust it, cause this kind of problems can only be solved by experts)

Drillers drill, journalists report, and politicians regulate. thats it.

Once again, we’re seeing a ton of people complaining that the article doesn’t offer solutions. The whole point of the article was to draw attention to the issue. Do you write to your local paper about EVERY STORY that isn’t giving you the answer? NO! So why are you doing it here? I was smart enough to research green solutions and alternatives to fracking, aren’t you?! You want to bite someone’s head off and act smart, BE smart! Go look it up for yourself! The research I did on alternatives was LENGTHY, to add that to this article would make it 50 pages long! Go do your own research and quit looking down your noses at GOOD REPORTING!

Our new Governer Tom Corbett just rescinded the moratorium on drilling on state forest lands in Pennsylvania even though Article1, Section 27 of P.A State Constition clearly states ” The people have a right to clean air,pure water,and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the enviroment.Pa’s public natural resources are the commen property of all people,including generations yet to come. As trustee of these ressources,the Commenwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people”. Obiviosly,he thinks laws only apply to people WITHOUT large money influence!

The solution is obviously to throw out the “Cheney exemption” of fracking laws until/unless we can make the process safer than it has proven to be.  The profit motive vs. environmental impact thing was pitched as being more balanced than it actually is, the environmental impacts are proving to be FAR more significant/far-reaching/permanent than originally thought. 

The real issue is that there are a LOT of areas that exploration companies wouldn’t have gone using previous methods and according to previous restrictions due to insufficient yield using safer, better proven fracking practices or the potential for lawsuits from impacted locals.  With zero regulation and laws protecting them more than the locals those concerns aren’t part of the picture.  They need to be.

What will it take, speak to me about our future, our children and their children’s future. Speak to me about mutated fisheries, animal lifem deformed babies, mothers having miscarriages, citizens suffering from organ failure…all should be considered. Speak to me of what we may not see today, will be visible tomorrow and the rich will be living in underground cities or on another planet. There must be guidelines, regulations and monitoring devices that can not be altered or showered with perks and behind the door and under the table deals.

Although I agree with those who believe that it is not Pro Publica’s resposibility to propose solutions to the problems presented by horizontal shale gas extraction methods, having reseached the issue a bit relative to Pennsylvania as a private citizen I will propose a few that might help:

1. Enact regulations for the detection, handling and disposal of low-level radioactive wastes generated by drilling. There are currently no such regulations in force in Pennsylvania.

2. Compell companies to store fracwater flowback in tanks rather than open air earth embanked plastic lined retention ponds. The bulk of well site violations to date center around retention pond failures (leaks, erosion, improper construction likely to lead to failure). The possibility of a hurricane passing through any state with open air retention ponds is terrible to contemplate. Open air ponds also pose a risk to livestock and wildlife, and they off-gas substantial quantities of hydrogen sulphide and other toxic gasses.

3. The state should not be spreading fracwater flowback brine on dirt roadways to reduce dust. It should also not be purchasing the salts and other solids from condensed flowback fracwater for use on snow-covered roadways. Use of these wastes in this manner will spread contamination far and wide.

4. Require compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Streams Act. There is no reason that companies should be exempted from acts enacted to protect the public’s health and welfare.

5.Compell all extraction companies to disclose the contents of the slickwater compounds used for drilling. While some companies have disclosed this information many have not.

6. Require all drilling companies to utilize company-specific chemical signatures in their slickwater fracing fluids. This would make tracing the source of leaks much simpler, and the burden of proof on private landowners subject to drilling related polution much smaller. Such individuals already face a David and Goliath situation with respect to the financial and legal resources available to large corporate interests.

7. Do not allow drilling in state lands. These were set aside for the public’s benefit, not that of corporate interests. The clearing and infrastructure required for drilling in state lands (5 acres per well pad, access roadways, pipelines, artificial ponds for water storage, wetlands infil, etc.) will destroy any continuity of forrested areas or meaningful experience of these areas.

8. Enact a severance tax similar to those enacted in every other state in which drilling has occured. Given the enormous profits being generated, the otherwise lackluster state economy, and the massive debt incurred by state government it is absurd and unfair that state taxpayers will end up footing the bill for the environmental cleanup which will inevitably be required. At a time when the governor has proposed cutting funding for state schools by 50% across the board there is no convincing arguement for not enacting a severance tax.

9. Require that the hydrological impact study required for drilling permit applications be conducted by a trained hydrologist. This is not currently the case.

The bottom line is that companies seek to maximize profit. As additional requirements and restrictions reduce profit and politics is driven by large scale campaign contributions, the public must protect itself by letting its voice be heard load and clear to its elected representatives. Apathy and lack of action will have tragic consequences.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

Fracking: Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat

The promise of abundant natural gas is colliding with fears about water contamination.

The Story So Far

The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.

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