The U.S. will become the world's largest oil producer by 2015, surpassing Russia and Saudia Arabia, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said late last year. America could also become energy independent in the next two decades because of the booming natural gas revolution taking place in several states. Few would argue that energy independence is a negative; the issue has been the safety and environmental impact of how natural gas is drilled -- the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Natural gas and oil are released from shale rock when water, sand and chemicals are injected underground at high pressure. Environmentalists say fracking contaminates drinking water and the air and poses serious risks to Americans' health. Moreover, fracking has proven to be dangerous to workers: 138 were killed on the job in 2013, and a recent explosion at a Chevron fracking well in Pennslyvania killed one worker and the ensuing fire burned for days.
Greg Zuckerman, a special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters, does not dispute that fracking needs to be more closely regulated. But he argues that the surge in domestic natural gas production won't ever stop.
"We depend on natural gas and 90% of the wells are being fracked," Zuckerman says in the video above. "The frackers have won."
Colorado announced new controls on its fracking industry this week; the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission will allow regulators to monitor and control the release of methane emissions during the fracking process. Methane contributes to global warming because it is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, according to the EPA. Five communities in Colorado have banned fracking over enviromental concerns. Colorado is the nation's sixth-largest producer of natual gas and the ninth-largest oil producer.
Zuckerman says the new rules will put needed pressure on the big oil and natural gas producers to do a better job at stopping accidents and environmental degradation.
"Fracking can be done safely and it's not being done safely all the time," he explains. "These are crucial and wonderful rules and to me every state should take this model that Colorado is enacting and embrace it."
Watch the video to see what Zuckerman has to say about the pending decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
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