This is the VOA Special English Economics Report, from Many people think the search for cleaner energy leads only to renewable resources like sun, wind and water. But it also leads to a fossil fuel. Natural gas is considered the cleanest of the fossil fuels — the fuels created by plant and animal remains over millions of years. Burning it releases fewer pollutants than oil or coal. The gas is mainly methane. It produces half the carbon dioxide of other fossil fuels. So it may help cut the production of carbon gases linked to climate change. Russia is first in what are called “proved reserves” of natural gas. The United States is sixth. Over the years, big oil and gas companies recovered much of the easily reached supplies of gas in America. They drilled straight down into formations where gas collects. As these supplies were used up, big drillers looked for similar formations in other countries. But now the industry is taking a new look. Companies are developing gas supplies trapped in shale rock two to three thousand meters underground. They drill down to the shale, then go sideways and inject high-pressure water, sand or other material into the rock. This causes the rock to break, or fracture, releasing the gas. Huge fields of gas shale are believed to lie under the Appalachian Mountains, Michigan and the south-central states. Gas shale exploration is being done mainly by small to medium sized companies. Eric Potter is a program director in the

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