Richard Heinberg and the Post Carbon Institute are on a mission to debunk the benefits of the hydraulic fracturing method of gas and oil extraction, or fracking, which many contend outweigh its disadvantages.
In his latest book, SNAKE OIL: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future, Heinberg—journalist, author and senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute—says the “false hype” surrounding shale gas and oil production “has hijacked America’s energy conversation.”
Heinberg says his research shows that “rather than offering the nation a century of cheap energy and economic prosperity, fracking may well present us with a short-term bubble that comes with exceedingly high economic and environmental costs.”
Heinberg continues, “Horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas pose a danger not just to local water and air quality, but also to sound energy policy, and therefore to our collective ability to avert the greatest human-made economic and environmental catastrophe in history.”
In his analysis of shale production to date, Heinberg says:
“Success in shifting energy policy depends upon coordination of environmental and economic arguments against continued reliance on fossil fuels,” Heinberg writes. “Are there enough accessible hydrocarbons to tip the world into climate chaos? Absolutely…by erroneously reinforcing industry hype about the future potential of shale gas, tight oil, and tar sands, they keep the debate exactly where the industry wants it—as a choice between environmental protection on the one hand and jobs, economic growth, and energy security on the other. It’s a false choice and a losing strategy.”
Well, hopefully a losing strategy at some point soon. Heinberg makes the telling point that the only real beneficiaries of fracking are the oil companies. That’s not good enough. The industry continues to rig the argument with a fossil fuel mirage.
[Image: Snake Oil front cover from the Post Carbon Institute website]