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NPR Uncovers Natural Gas's Dirty Secrets

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Drilling for natural gas is a dirty business, as Enviroblog readers know.

Dusty Horwitt, Environmental Working Group's Senior Counsel, has worked tirelessly to document the environmental depredations of a drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing.

Earlier this week, National Public Radio correspondent John Burnett covered yet other possible health dangers of natural gas production. The Barnett Shale gas deposit in Northern Texas is now the site of some 1,300 gas compression stations, Burnett reported.

Eleven compressors surround the town of Dish, population around 200. Burnett says that Texas environmental regulators have detected elevated levels of benzene, a known human carcinogen, near the compressors and that constant low-frequency rumbling plagues residents and their livestock.

The story quoted people who described unexplained health problems such as migraines and ruptured ear drums and mysterious neurological illnesses in horses.

As the U.S. presses for energy independence, the natural gas debate is sure to escalate.

In the meantime, public opposition is causing some drillers to rethink their plans to drill in sensitive and populous areas.

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