But more transparency is needed on all sides – from the government to the private energy firms vying for the rights to explore what could be vast amounts of oil and natural gas.

The process for extracting the “unconventional” gas, hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – is stirring up opposition. Environmentalists fear earthquakes and potential groundwater contamination when a high-pressure combination of water, sand and chemicals is injected into the shale or sandstone rock to crack them open enough to allow trapped gas deep below the surface to escape.

However, based on the record in the United States and elsewhere, we think the environmental concerns are not serious enough to stop fracking. America’s ability to become self-sufficient in gas has had tremendous benefits, improving the nation’s strategic position and lowering the prices consumers pay.

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