Evidence is rapidly building that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a controversial natural gas drilling technique — is far more dangerous to the environment than the natural gas industry or federal regulators want you to know.

From the Rockies to the Gulf, from the Upper Midwest to Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Front there are complaints of fouled wells, stinking air, dead streams, earth tremors and, in at least one West Virginia case, an entire river gone dry. It’s all part of a frantic rush to tap and drain America’s shale gas fields before meaningful regulations can be enacted to protect drinking water and public health.

Unfortunately, as this American catastrophe unfolds in gas-producing states, Congress does worse than nothing. U.S. legislators have made fracking exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act and other federal environmental regulations.

Here in West Virginia, the action is centered on the Marcellus shale field — a gas formation stretching along an arc from Kentucky and Ohio, through Pennsylvania into New York. It’s the second biggest gas field in the world, called the American Saudi Arabia, with enough gas to meet U.S. needs for 20 years. Four years ago no one had heard of it.

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