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Natural Gas Report Drills Into Hazards and Solutions

November 17, 2011

LARAMIE, Wyo. - Natural gas production in Wyoming and a few other states gets a top-to-bottom look in a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, which verifies that natural gas is part of the nation's energy future - but one that needs some guidance to protect air, water, public health and wildlife.

Neil Thagard, energy initiative manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, has hunted on most public lands in Wyoming and says there's no doubt that the boom of natural gas production, especially through fracking, is taking a toll.

"Review the abundance of research that shows severe declines in such species as mule deer and sage grouse. I'm very concerned about potential impacts on fish, wildlife and sportsmen, and their opportunities."

The Wyoming experience is mentioned in the report, which calls for federal oversight as well as state oversight. The Environmental Protection Agency recently confirmed that compounds used in fracking have contaminated water supplies in Pavillion.

Thagard says the key is to find ways to make natural gas extraction productive, but not destructive.

"Over the years, I have observed adverse changes where development has been allowed to proceed without adequate checks and balances, such as the Pinedale Anticline - which is the poster child for what not to do for wildlife management."

The oil and gas industry argues that fracking is safe, since the water is usually injected miles underground, well below any water sources.

The report, "No More Drilling in the Dark," is online at nwf.org/fracking.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY