structed wells up to the surface, he reveals.
After enough pressure builds, it can seep
into the water supply.
There is also considerable uncertainty
surrounding the potential health effects
of fracking. Anecdotes and available scientific research show that emissions from
well sites may lead to respiratory irritation and endocrine disruption that might
cause developmental or neurological harm
with exposure over months or years. But
increased use of natural gas has reduced
dependence on coal, and the health benefits associated with this change must also
be taken into account.
Raimi discusses how fracking is regulated predominantly through state governments, meaning that regulation and
enforcement are variable. He then asks: “Is
fracking good or bad for climate change?”
His answer is nuanced. Methane gas, a
more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon
The reviewer is at the Centre for Environmental Policy,
Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK.
dioxide, may leak, and these methane emissions are difficult to measure. But Raimi
asserts that we must also take into account the potential climate benefits of gas
replacing coal, because natural gas burns
“cleaner” than coal, with lower greenhouse
As for the economic impacts of the shale
revolution, although fracking has spurred
economic growth and jobs, the volatile nature of oil and gas prices makes communities that rely on this industry vulnerable to
financial instability. Oil and gas production,
therefore, is not an economic panacea, as
some have tried to argue.
Turning his attention to those who live
near production facilities, Raimi reveals
that “stories of the people living through
the booms and busts are rarely simple.” He
has talked to some who have praised the
shale revolution and the economic restoration it has brought to regions that had been
in economic decline, but others describe
increased crime and traffic and an uneasiness about the changes that have come
with the arrival of this new industry and
Raimi acknowledges that even dur-
ing the writing of this book, many of the
technologies, markets, and policies sur-
rounding shale extraction have shifted in
unexpected ways. For example, oil prices
dropped dramatically between August 2014
and February 2016, leading to uncertainty
about how the Organization of the Petro-
leum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would
respond. Shale gas prices, too, dropped
dramatically, leading producers to develop
technologies to maximize production, in-
cluding longer horizontal drilling and mo-
bile drilling rigs that can move from site to
site without being disassembled.
The future will likely bring more change.
However, the lessons learned in this book
can be applied to future developments and
changes as they occur.
Issues such as market volatility, the
rapid pace of the shale revolution, and
breakthroughs in technology, as well as the
decisions made by the current U.S. administration, are all key sources of potential
change in a contested issue already fraught
with uncertainty. Raimi concludes that, despite these unknowns, we must be willing to
listen to the opposition and to compromise
on “thorny and complex trade-offs.” j
A fracking site looms near a water source on the edge
of the Bakken Shale play in southern Alberta, Canada.
Find out more about the scope of the journal and submit
your research today. Science TranslationalMedicine.org
Gopinath Sutendra and Evangelos D. Michelakis, “Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension:
Challenges in Translational. Research and a Vision for Change”, Sci. Transl. Med. 5,
208sr5 (2013) Credit: Science Source
WILL YOUR RESEARCH
LEAD TO BETTER LIVES
17050 Montebello Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014
BETCHART EXPEDITIONS Inc.
For a detailed brochure, call (800) 252-4910
All prices are per person twin share + air
Discover awesome glaciers, remote islands,
pods of whales, bears, bald eagles, and more.
Kayak in remote inlets and hike in some of
the most spectacular scenery in North
America. Sail to the Inian Islands and in the
Icy Strait for Steller sea lions and sea otters.
Explore Glacier Bay National Park, Frederick
Sound, Chatham Strait, Petersburg, and Tracy
Arm - Ford’s Terror Wilderness.
May 27 - June 3, 2018
With Free Air from Seattle