A study by a professor at Cornell University has found that shale gas has a larger ecological footprint throughout it’s lifecycle (mining, production, use) than both coal and petroleum based fuel. This presents a large threat the our environment. Many chemicals are added to the water used to ‘fracture’ the shale layers which also causes methane leaks, and the water must be held in above ground ‘ponds’ until it can be treated. Methane leaks can be fatally harmful to humans and other animals species alike, as well as animals may mistake these polluted ponds for natural water and become ill or die if they ingest the water. So environmentally, shale gas exploration is quite dangerous, in terms of the actual process, if it is a volatile process, the answer is also yes. When you are dealing with fracturing layers of rock and mineral in the subsurface and mining a flammable gas, the risk is high.
There is a documentary called Gasland that would do a lot to educate in the realm of hydraulic fracturing and the social and environmental effects of natural gas exploitation.
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