The natural gas boom — driven in large measure by the environmental destructive practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — is doing more harm than good. The enormous scale of development, its very rapid pace, and the smoke and noise accompanying it — all defining elements of a “boom” — explain why the balance tips to the negative. The scale is a problem because the most serious health and environmental impacts of fracking are largely due to very intensive development. We have 500,000 gas wells in this country, nearly 3,000 in just one county, and 11 compressor stations belching carcinogenic air emissions in a tiny town of only two square miles (Dish, Texas). Our ecosystems (like our bodies) can absorb a certain amount of abuse and still bounce back. But at a certain point, it’s just too much, and the insults overwhelm the resilience.
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