With all the negative press on Chesapeake Energy’s latest problems in drilling the Marcellus Shale on the East Coast it is easy to jump to conclusions and consider that gas and oil drilling are the same all over. They are most definitely not.
Each oil or gas play has its own characteristic geology and thus the risks are different in each play and must be addressed with different engineering approaches to well development. This article from Time Magazine More Problems With Fracking—And Some Solutions highlights the differences between the Marcellus and other Eastern Shale Gas deposits and Oil plays like the Niobrara which are by nature much less risky. That is not to say there are not risks in the Niobrara, but they are known and should be able to be mitigated with proper State and County regulations.
In the authors opinion, surface contamination with fracking fluids due to an accident or a 100 year flood is a bigger risk than aquifer contamination from the subsurface in the Niobrara. Read the article and form your own opinion.