"Energy Experts Say Drilling Can Be Made Cleaner"

Drilling for gas and oil can be safe or it can be dangerous.

"PITTSBURGH -- In the Colorado mountains, a spike in air pollution has been linked to a boom in oil and gas drilling. About 800 miles away on the plains of north Texas, there's a drilling boom, too, but some air pollution levels have declined. Opponents of drilling point to Colorado and say it's dangerous. Companies point to Texas and say drilling is safe.

The answer appears to be that drilling can be safe or it can be dangerous. Industry practices, enforcement, geography and even snow cover can minimize or magnify air pollution problems.

'It's like a vehicle. Some cars drip oil,' said Russell Schnell, deputy director of the federal Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. 'You have wells that are absolutely tight. And you have other places where a valve gives out, and you have huge leaks.'

The good news, nearly all sides agree, is that the technology exists to control methane gas leaks and other air pollution associated with drilling. The bad news is that the industry is booming so rapidly that some companies and some regulators can't seem to get ahead of the problems, which could ultimately cost billions of dollars to remedy."

Kevin Begos and Seth Borenstein report for the Associated Press December 10, 2012.

Source: AP, 12/11/2012