New drilling technologies have given energy companies access to natural gas reserves in shale formations previously out of reach. The North Dakota state government, for example, said its natural gas production levels continue to set records.
The British government said in mid-July it would offer a tax break on profits from shale production. Energy companies IGas and Cuadrilla are frontier players in the emerging industry, though there has been no commercial shale natural gas yet produced in Britain.
Oil Change International, an advocacy group critical of a carbon-intensive economy, said it's too soon to herald the dawn of a British shale natural gas industry.
"Britain's politicians love to talk about evidence-based policy, but then are ignoring the latest evidence showing water pollution from fracking," the group said in a statement Tuesday. "They are also ignoring the other fundamental flaw about fracking: this is not a precise technology, it is not a precise science."
The controversial practice known as fracking was halted briefly when Cuadrilla reported minor tremors near drilling sites last year. The government enacted a series of safety benchmarks to permit the practice.