Shale gas is the big American story of the new century, what many have called "a game changer" and "an energy revolution." It has created hundreds of thousands of new jobs, generated billions in revenue for state and federal government, and given a boost to other industrial enterprises. Despite all the economic benefits, however, shale gas remains a highly controversial fossil fuel, as its extraction involves a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, whereby millions of gallons of chemically-laced water are injected under very high pressure underground to break the rock and release the trapped gas. This has had dire environmental consequences, especially in heavily exploited regions like Texas and Pennsylvania. There have been health concerns as well as numerous cases of water and air contamination, and habitat loss.
This reporting was funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Calkins Media, publishers of Shalereporter.com.