However, gas can harm land and waterscapes. Sometimes roads need to be built through animal habitats to reach drilling locations. Vehicles can destroy vegetation and soil quality, in turn causing erosion and landslides.
Gas refinement requires pulling water from local streams and rivers. The first threat? Water volume drops, threatening sea life. The second threat? When water gets re-released into the environment, it's been saturated with pollutants. The government monitors and requires permits for this discharge. So in terms of land and water, gas isn't exactly nature-safe.
Advances in technology are helping natural-gas producers reduce environmental disturbances. Recently, a procedure called fracking, which uses hydraulic pressure to crack shale rock and release ancient, trapped gas, has made previously inaccessible reserves cheap to reach. The jury is still out on whether or not fracking contaminates land by introducing chemicals to the surrounding rock. It is possible that fracking contaminates local well water and streams.
But environmentalists might not get the last say on natural gas. Geologists estimate U.S. rock beds hold enough gas to supply the U.S. for at least 100 years. If oil reserves become increasingly politically unstable, natural gas might find its way into our homes, factories, appliances, and products even faster.