There are a few societal costs to the development of shale gas. Potential contamination of groundwater, complications in treating and recycling water used in fracking. Then there’s air pollution from leaking methane (a potent greenhouse gas) and from the diesel-powered rigs and trucks involved in drilling.
But all things considered the benefits of shale gas appear to outweigh the costs. Many utilities are finding that burning natural gas to generate electricity is cheaper (and cleaner) than coal. Cheaper supplies of fuel and feedstocks benefits U.S. industry, especially manufacturers and chemicals makers which have been reinvesting in the U.S. Homeowners benefit from cheaper heating and cooling and electricity. Drilling for gas has created hundreds of thousands of jobs during this economic malaise and it’s generated billions of dollars of lease payments and royalties to landowners.