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Ohio Utica Shale

Online debate by The Economist: Is fracking worth it?

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2013

A press release received today:

Today, The Economist launched an online debate regarding shale gas extraction with the motion "Do the benefits derived from shale gas outweigh the drawbacks of fracking?”

 Shale gas, extracted by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of rock formations, has transformed America’s energy outlook. The country is set to become self-sufficient in natural gas and could become a big exporter, boosting its economy, while gas substituting for coal in electricity generation has sent carbon emissions plunging. But extracting shale gas is controversial. Opponents claim that fracking and other consequences of extracting shale gas harm the environment through poor practices, leading to water pollution, methane leakage and seismic activity, as well as the industrialisation of the countryside—and big investments are being made in a fossil fuel rather than renewable energy. The gas industry and those in favour of shale gas dismiss most of these assertions as either vastly trumped up or plain wrong. Which side is right?

 Defending the proposition is Myers Jaffe, executive director for energy and sustainability at the University of California, Davis.Contesting the motion is Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. The debate will be moderated by Simon Wright, energy and commodities correspondent, The Economist. Josh Fox, environmental activist and director of the 2010 “Gasland” documentary, and Erik Milito, Director of Upstream and Industry Operations, American Petroleum Institute, will provide guest commentary.

 The debate, which is sponsored by Statoil, runs from February 5-February 15 at www.economist.com/debate.

 The Economist Debate Series is an open community forum – no paid subscription is necessary and anyone can participate.

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