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New Book Takes On Pros, Cons of Fracking

Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Russell Gold — who has been  recognized as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and is a recipient of the Gerald Loeb Award for his work – has released a new book entitled “The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World.”

To write the book, Gold “traveled along the pipelines and into the hubs of this country’s energy infrastructure; he has visited frac sites from Texas to North Dakota; and he has conducted thousands of interviews with engineers and wildcatters, CEOs and roughnecks, environmentalists and politicians.” He also sifted through reams of engineering reports, lawsuit transcripts and financial filings to paint an accurate picture of hydraulic fracturing.

Gold recently discussed his work on the syndicated radio show Coast to Coast, and addressed concerns that the process can cause environmental damage, including water contamination, air pollution and earthquakes. Based on his research, Gold has concluded that when there have been environmental problems with fracking it has to do with faulty wells, but most often energy companies are doing the process correctly and relatively safely.

Gold admits “the giddiness of a boom can lead to exaggeration,” which raises the question of how long it might last. He pours doubt on the supposed hundred-year supply of natural gas that the industry has touted and that President Obama cited in his 2012 State of the Union address. Yet “The Boom” often echoes the industry statements about a “revolution” bringing forth “enormous and vast” amounts of oil and gas.

Interestingly, the biggest complaint he heard from residents who live in fracking towns is the increased industrialization and traffic to their area, rather than environmental worries, he said. One of the downsides to this new bounty of gas and oil, he added, is that its usage may contribute further to our climate problems, until renewable energy becomes more widespread.

The book is published by Simon & Schuster.