The United States is in the midst of a natural gas boom — about 200,000 gas wells have been drilled in the past decade. The boom has been fueled by the use of hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — which involves pumping a mixture of water and chemicals into the ground to get access to the gas.
Just a few years ago, Georgia Power generated nearly three-fourths of its electricity with coal. Last year, for the first time, natural gas edged out coal, and just this week the company announced plans to close 10 coal-fired power generators within the next few years.
"We do recognize this is a historic event for our company. We've never announced this many closings at one time," says Mark Williams, a company spokesperson.
There is plenty in the movie Promised Land that will prompt energy industry insiders to roll their eyes. But the overall issues explored in the film, which is being widely released in theaters Friday, are very real.
A process called hydraulic fracturing has led to drilling booms that are transforming rural communities into industrial zones. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," makes it possible to tap into natural gas reservoirs deep underground. But first, gas companies have to convince landowners to allow them to drill.
When the 20-inch gas pipeline next to Interstate 77 in West Virginia first ruptured on Tuesday, nobody at pipeline operator, Columbia Gas Transmission, knew it.
Now, the National Transportation Safety Board is trying to find out why. NTSB member Robert Sumwalt says no warning went off in the operating company's control center in nearby Charleston, so investigators are going there to interview staffers and review data.