Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Useful Scientific Information on Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is not a new technology for obtaining natural gas, but it's increasing use, along with horror stories of methane contamination of water supplies (including videos of flaming water pouring from a faucet), earthquakes and other environmental consequences, have made the technique controversial. Much of the coverage of fracking, of late, has been hyperbolic: either it's environmentally devastating and must be stopped (see, e.g., here), or its economically necessary to extract plentiful supplies of inexpensive natural gas trapped in rock formations (see, e.g., here).

Now comes Rachel Ehrenberg of ScienceNews (here), exploring "The Facts Behind the Frack" from a relatively neutral scientific perspective. Ehrenberg usefully focuses on the question of whether the environmental risks of fracking can be minimized to socially acceptable levels. That question is not answered in the piece, but the article contains a great deal of extremely valuable material to better inform the debate.

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