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Pa. mine stays shuttered following toxic spill

Chesapeake Energy will not resume a controversial natural gas production process in Pennsylvania until a well that blew out last week is permanently sealed and inspected.

Chesapeake Energy will not resume a controversial natural gas production process in Pennsylvania until a well that blew out last week is permanently sealed and inspected, a company spokesman said yesterday.

Chesapeake, one of Pennsylvania's biggest shale gas producers, last week suspended hydraulic fracturing — or “fracking” — in Pennsylvania after thousands of gallons of drilling fluid used in the process spewed from a well in Bradford County after a blowout.

Fracking involves releasing natural gas trapped in shale formations by blasting a mix of water, sand and chemicals into the rock. Environmentalists say that fracking has the potential to contaminate nearby water supplies.

Advances in drilling technology such as fracking have revolutionized U.S. energy markets, opening up the potential of vast reserves of natural gas in shale deposits.

Proponents say extracting shale gas through fracking will slash U.S. reliance on foreign oil and cut carbon emissions. President Barack Obama has made natural gas the cornerstone of his energy policy, in part thanks to the huge reserves unlocked by the use of fracking. Shale gas now accounts for 23 percent of U.S. natural gas production, rising from a negligible amount in 2004.

But environmentalists and residents, concerned that fracking can pollute water supplies, have called for increased regulation on natural gas production.

 
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