Like all major energy sources, natural gas production is industrial activity that cannot be done with no impact on the environment. But again like all energy sources, natural gas's impacts vary depending on the practices and technology used to produce it.
A big step in reducing the impact of gas production and making gas cleaner are green completions. http://articles.philly.com/2012-11-25/business/35348948_1_natural-gas-shale-gas-completions. Indeed, progress in green completions is among the most important advances within the gas industry, and so it was good to see EQT and its embrace of green completions featured in the linked to story by Andy Maykuth.
Green completions matter, because they reduce air pollutants, including methane leaking into the atmosphere. Indeed, green completions cut substantially the amount of methane that leaks throughout the full gas production cycle, thereby increasing the climate advantages of gas, when compared to coal and oil.
Green completions also increase gas volumes and revenues for gas companies and so come close to paying for themselves. They are another example of good business and good environmental practice being the same.
Probably more than half of all gas wells in the USA are already green completed but that number will jump higher by 2015, when an EPA rule requiring broad use of the technology is scheduled to take effect. The EPA rule, however, is being challenged in court by industry that thinks the rule goes too far and environmentalists that think the rule does not go far enough.
Given the reality of those legal challenges to the EPA air rule and the uncertainty that they create, steps taken today by EQT and others to use more green completions are especially important.