Hydrofracking: What Everyone Needs To Know

Oxford Univ. (What Everyone Needs To Know). Dec. 2013. 192p. notes. index. ISBN 9780199311262. $75; pap. ISBN 9780199311255. $16.95. TECH
Drilling with hydraulic fracturing, known as hydrofracking or fracking, to extract oil and natural gas has become a contentious issue. Journalist Prud'homme (The Ripple Effect) seeks to clarify the situation. He points out that the technique is transforming energy use in North America. While conventional petroleum reserves are declining, shale formations are sites of a potential new gas bonanza. Coal-fired electric power plants are being replaced with cleaner gas plants. North American industry is more globally competitive as gas feedstocks become cheaper. If priced correctly, such abundant natural gas could become a "bridge fuel" to a renewable energy economy. Prud'homme expects that stricter EPA standards and technical improvements by energy corporations will make the process more acceptable; at the moment, he explains, the hydrofracking process consumes vast amounts of water, and the recycling or disposal of the wastewater is problematic. Because of the unknown composition of proprietary chemicals used, the monitoring and treating of groundwater near drill sites is hampered, and human and animal health may be affected.
VERDICT This overview of hydrofracking and the bitter conflicts it causes will especially interest residents of states and provinces with shale oil and the potential for gas production.
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