Here's the best story I've read to date explaining what "fracking" - the new technology that is unlocking heretofore unobtainable oil and gas out of "conventional" oil and gas fields - is all about. From the Globe & Mail, Sat. March 10, 2012 edition,http: "Fear of fracking: How public concerns put an energy reniassance at risk."
And it's a considered review of the environmental worries around fracking. Seems to me there is a quite simple solution to immediate fracking concerns, that all the underground explosions are upsetting the natural order of things in the sub-stratas, a fear that contaminates could leak into clean-water underground acquifers. Whether this fear is justified is a whole different story. Most fracking happens hundreds, if not thousands of metres below the water zones that play into the Earth's ecological cycles. Responsible governments should simply impose no-drill precautionary safety zones - at whatever distances the scientists agree upon - around all hamlets, villages, towns and cities. And insist on lesser safety zones around any farms or established rural homes. Of course this would raise a ruckus within the industry, where good money has already been paid to the Alberta government for the right to drill in promising underground formations, or where oil companies already bought drilling rights years ago that continue to be valid. But in the greater good, keeping fracking far away from "civilization" is likely the right thing to do. Plus it solves a pile of political headaches. Plus it takes the issue out of the public eye, where its possible disadvantages are always distorted and exaggerated by environmental militants determined to rid the world of fossil fuels, no matter how "green" we make them.