Where the drilling and fracturing happened, water wells sometimes became contaminated. Waste pits leaked into aquifers. Large quantities of fresh water were used. Mountain glaciers and Wyoming valleys became shrouded in smog. Reports began to emerge that natural gas might cause almost as much greenhouse gas pollution as coal. Now the industry is at a crucial point. Even as the hard lessons have come into focus, the myriad opportunities presented by this vast fuel source have made its development inevitable.
In less than a decade, clean energy has grown from a small, niche industry to a significant source of trade, investment, manufacturing and job creation. “The clean energy sector is emerging as one of the most dynamic and competitive in the world, witnessing 630 percent growth in finance and investments since 2004,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director, Pew Clean Energy Program. “In 2010, worldwide finance and investment grew 30 percent to a record $243 billion.”