Controversial Drilling Method Gaining Foothold Across Europe

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In a scramble for new sources of natural gas, European energy companies are increasingly turning to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a drilling technique that has generated controversy in the U.S. because of potential harmful environmental effects.

In Poland, Halliburton has constructed a well for the state-owned Polish Oil and Gas Company that analysts say could yield 1.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, and test wells have been built or are planned in the UK, Sweden, and Denmark. Critics say the drilling process — which involves pumping fluids and sand into the ground at high pressure to break up shale rock and release gas — poses a threat to drinking water supplies.

New York officials this week approved a temporary ban on fracking until state regulators can establish safety guidelines, and the Obama administration is considering stricter disclosure requirements from drilling companies.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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