Beneath the Eastern U.S. is enough natural gas to power the coast, perhaps for 50 years. But the cache is cordoned off because of concerns about “fracking,” the method of harvesting gas by blasting the shale with a mix of water, sand, and chemicals. The EPA is investigating if the method affects reservoirs, while landowners, spurred by flammable tap water and allegations of poisoned animals, have launched lawsuits. But fracking may be poised for a comeback—at least politically.
With the House in Republican hands, fracking is likely to survive efforts to regulate it under the Safe Drinking Water Act. But more significantly, this foe of environmentalists now has a friend in gas-rich Pennsylvania. Governor-elect Tom Corbett will soon reopen state land to new drilling, his spokesperson tells NEWSWEEK. That would clear the way for as many as 10,000 wells (up from the 25 active today) and, according to a recent study, create tens of thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions in state- and local-tax revenue. The industry funded that research. But the prospect is tempting others: New York Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo is also open to lifting his state’s moratorium, says a spokesperson.