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Fracking Spurs Natural Gas Boom

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Some are concerned about the potential environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into shale formations to crack the rocks and release natural gas.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Some are concerned about the potential environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into shale formations to crack the rocks and release natural gas.

The natural gas boom spurred by the increase in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" -- is causing a tidal wave of new or expanded power, chemical and fertilizer plants, according to a report released this week by the non-profit Environmental Integrity Project.

The report says since 2012, companies have proposed or already obtained 95 clean air act permits for these plants allowing for what could be a 91 million ton increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

The key to reducing emissions lies in more efficient plants, something that could benefit both the environment and the gas, chemical and refining industries, said EIP Director Eric Schaeffer, who co authored the report.

"In other words there's really no tension between the economy and the environment, it's not always that easy, but there are many opportunities in these industries to capitalize on efficiency," said Schaeffer.

Proposed new liquefied natural gas terminals are cited in the report, including Dominion Energy's proposed Cove Point expansion, in Calvert County, MD. The report says the plant would emit about as much greenhouse gas as a new coal plant. That facility would create 75 permanent jobs and hundreds of construction jobs.

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