Chemical companies are the latest beneficiaries of natural gas drilling booms across the country, especially near the Marcellus Shale region in the Northeast. The ethane-rich gas there is providing a cheap resource, prompting chemical companies to build new plants, expand existing ones and even reopen shuttered facilities.
Southern Co. will build the reactors at its Vogtle site in Georgia. An industry-backed group hopes it's the first wave of new reactors, but a coalition of groups plans to sue to stop the project. Among its arguments: Engineers are still figuring out what went wrong at the Fukushima meltdown in Japan last year.
Gas prices are creeping up in the D.C. area -- something that's unusual for the cold winter months. Some analysts say the tenuous situation in Iran is to blame, and it could make matters worse going forward.
The relatively clean gas is replacing dirty coal-fired power plants. That's good news for the environment. But in the long run, cheap natural gas might delay the transition to even cleaner sources of energy, such as wind and solar power.
The once-booming clean-tech industry is facing hard times, in part because of cheaper natural gas, the effects of the financial crisis, China's growing solar industry and the Solyndra bankruptcy. Reporter Juliet Eilperin, who covers the industry's struggles in Wired's February issue, explains.
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