PRO: Potential Energy Independence
Estimates by the United States Department of Energy put the number of recoverable barrels of shale gas at around 1.8 trillion. To put that into perspective, Saudi Arabia is estimated to have roughly 2.6 trillion barrels of oil reserves.

Christopher Booker writes for The Telegraph that there are enough world reserves to “keep industrialised civilisation going for hundreds of years”

CON: Water Pollution
A blog post by the Natural Resource Defense Council explains that “Opponents of such regulation [of fracking] claim that hydraulic fracturing has never caused any drinking water contamination. They say this because incidents of drinking water contamination where hydraulic fracutring is considered as a suspected cause have not been sufficiently investigated.”

It then goes on to list more than two dozen instances of water pollution to which hydraulic fracking is believed to have contributed.

A new waterless method of fracking has been proposed, but environmentalists are skeptical.

CON: Leaks More Emissions Than Coal
Methane is a greenhouse gas and major component of shale’s carbon footprint.

Cornell Professor Robert Howarth said about a study he conducted, “Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20 percent greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years.”

PRO: Burns Cleaner Than Other Fossil Fuels
Researchers at MIT found that replacing coal power plants with natural gas plants could work as part of a plan to reduce greenhouse emissions by more than 50 percent.

CON: Hydraulic Fracking Has Been Linked To Earthquakes
Several earthquakes both in the U.S. and abroad have been linked to the hydraulic fracturing process.

One British company, Cuadrilla Resources, admitted in a report that its hydraulic fracturing process well “did trigger a number of minor seismic events.”

PRO: Jobs
The industry currently employs more than 1.2 million people in the U.S., and the Department of Energy estimates that natural gas resources have increased nearly 65 percent due to fracking, according to a TreeHugger graphic.

Additionally, the gas industry accounts for about $385 billion in direct economic activity in the country, a Nature piece reports.

CON: Companies Don’t Have To Disclose Chemicals Used In Process
Fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act of 2005, thus allowing companies to conceal the chemicals used in the process.

PRO: Buys Time To Develop Renewable Energy
Former chief of staff to President Clinton and former head of the Center for American Progress John Podesta says natural gas can serve “as a bridge fuel to a 21st century energy economy that relies on efficiency, renewable sources, and low-carbon fossil fuels.”

CON: Requires Large Amounts Of Water
The fracking process can require around five million gallons of water.

In some cases less than a third of that water is recovered.

CON : Fracking Our Food Supply
Are dying cattle the canaries in the coal mine? Farmers and ranchers are sounding alarms about the risks to human health of hydraulic fracturing.