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UK shale gas drilling suspended after earthquakes

LONDON (AP) — A mining company has halted drilling for shale gas off the British coast after scientists said small earthquakes in the area might be linked to the controversial process, known as “fracking.”

The British Geological Survey recorded a 1.5 magnitude quake Friday near Blackpool in northwest England, 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) from the gas exploration. A 2.3 magnitude quake was recorded last month.

Cuadrilla Resources says it has stopped fracking — which extracts gas by pummeling rocks deep underground with high-pressure water, sand and chemicals — while it studies data from the quakes.

Shale gas extraction, pioneered by the U.S. and Canada, is forecast to boost global recoverable natural gas resources by 40 percent. But ecologists are alarmed by its environmental impact.

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