Petroleum companies are now making an aggressive push into natural gas. In doing so, they have taken on a new set of allies: big national liberal and environmental organizations. The Sierra Club's Karl Pope has recently barnstormed around the country with oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, extolling the virtues of natural gas in public forums. They say it burns cleaner than coal, which is true, and then add, hopefully, that it will lessen our dependence on foreign oil.
On the other side, people damaged by natural gas exploration in the Mountain West feel a sharp sense of betrayal at the hijacking of the "green economy" by old school petroleum companies in cahoots with people and groups who they had previously viewed as allies. They point out that industry claims of how clean natural gas burns are overwhelmed by the problems natural gas drilling creates.
Western ranchers and landowners from Montana to New Mexico have watched their water wells dry up or become poisoned, seen their range land and natural grasses killed off, their wildlife decimated, and their formerly pristine air now subject to regular ozone alerts. http://www.1000voicesarchive.org/video/149/George-Smith-1000_Voices-Sheridan-WY
But, now the lonesome cowboys on the range have some companions in their misery. Natural gas has been discovered in large deposits in New York and Pennsylvania.
On Feb. 22, 2010, a group of activists recently disrupted the CEO of Chesapeake Energy as he delivered a lecture at Harvard entitled "Natural Gas: Fueling America's Clean Energy Future." Despite the Ivy League surroundings, the executive, Aubrey McClendon, left the event earlier than scheduled following a series of pointed questions and jeers from the audience over the impact of gas wells and "hydraulic fracturing" atop the clean drinking water supply for New York and Pennsylvania. Most significantly, this event and the surrounding growth of local grass-roots opposition indicate how a bitter conflict from the sparsely populated West has now moved into the more densely populated East.