Don't Just Drill, Baby -- Drill Carefully

How to Make Fracking Safer for the Environment

All hat, no hydrocarbons: protesting fracking in Los Angeles, May 2013. Lucy Nicholson / Courtesy Reuters

The energy business has a way of making smart people look dumb. Experts were blindsided by the shale revolution in the United States. For most of the last few decades, they had assumed that U.S. domestic energy supplies were dwindling. Then, advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” -- the injection of high-pressure streams of sand, water, and chemicals into underground shale and other rock to unlock oil and natural gas trapped there -- significantly boosted total U.S. natural gas production, by as much as 25 percent in recent years, forcing many experts to change their tune. Horizontal drilling and fracking are now having an even bigger impact on domestic oil production: five years ago, most new onshore rigs were drilling for shale gas, but today, most are drilling for oil in shale and so-called tight rock formations. Experts are confidently pointing to the benefits of abundant

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