Hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – is a fast-growing source of natural gas used to create electricity, heat homes, and more. It involves forcing water, sand, and chemicals into super-deep wells and then recovering the gas released during the process.
Fracking is also highly controversial, with viral video hits such as “The Fracking Song” and the 2010 documentary Gasland contending that the process leads to polluted drinking water, home explosions, and worse.
Fracking has been around for more than 60 years and over 100,000 gas wells are dug per year, most of them in sparsely populated areas in the western U.S. With the discovery of the Marcellus Shale in the eastern part of the country, fracking is increasingly common in populated parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, leading to heightened tensions between drillers and environmentalists. Indeed, the attorney general of New York has called for a moratorium on the practice in the Empire State.
Is fracking safe? And what are the potential benefits that will be forfeited if the practice is ended? Reason’s Nick Gillespie sat down with science correspondent Ronald Bailey to learn the truth about fracking. Bailey reports that the cases of contaminated water supplies were the result of poorly designed wells that had nothing to do with fracking itself. As important, he notes that the gas generated by fracking would not only massively increase American energy supply, it would do so with a relatively clean and cheap fuel.