A:

The United States is the largest producer of natural gas, overtaking Russia in 2009, and producing approximately 681.4 billion cubic meters each year. Russia produces just 10 billion cubic meters less per year, and the third top producer, the European Union, produces only 162.8 billion. Recent growth in U.S. natural gas production has largely resulted from increased production in the southern and eastern U.S. The top five states for natural gas production are Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

The fracking process has dramatically increased the supply of natural gas produced by the U.S. This process has been in use since the 1940s but has recently been expanded as a technique to reach previously unavailable natural gas reserves. Fracking releases the gas trapped inside solid rock using injected fluid to break open the solid mineral. Prior fractures in the rock are expanded to break the rock open, and new fractures are created by this method. The use of fracking has increased the amount of natural gas obtained per cubic meter of land, allowing producers to dramatically increase land productivity. Controversy surrounds fracking in the U.S. This technique often results in dramatic environmental effects, including increased air and water pollution. Local residents often suffer from health problems related to the effects of air pollution on human lungs, and many people are impacted by the often dramatic groundwater pollution caused by the use of water as a fluid agent to break rock in the fracking process. Numerous lawsuits have been filed, but the advance of fracking as a process has been largely unaffected.

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