Is natural gas worth the environmental hazards presented in extracting and processing it? The boom in natural gas production has not been without controversy. The process of hydraulic fracturing has spawned widespread protest, especially from environmental groups, who say the process has not been proven to be safe. Other factors also detract from the benefits of natural gas. For example, hydraulic fracturing (often called “fracking") requires large amounts of silica sand and enormous quantities of water to accomplish. Many areas are being mined for silica sand, and local citizens are alarmed about the numerous sandy pits that are opening gaping holes in once pristine landscapes and productive farmland given over to natural gas production. In general, however, the advantages of natural gas over coal are significant across the board when all factors of economics, energy production and ecology are considered.