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Hydraulic Fracturing: A Controversy and A Case for Evolved Negotiations,
A three-part series
Part One: A Primer on Resource Extraction and Hydraulic Fracturing

By Lisa Bracken

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Hydraulic Fracturing

The term hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as frac’ing and fracking, has recently become part of the global lexicon as the natural gas industry expands its industrial operations across America and the globe.

Hydraulic fracturing is frequently heralded as the sole technology capable of leading us into the next century by efficiently and economically extracting cleaner burning natural gas from challenging formations to serve as the bridge fuel to a sustainable energy future… in effect, boldly taking lead as the ‘new oil.’

However, because the application is under great suspicion of contributing to degraded aquifers in many areas of the United States and abroad, the term often induces doubt, fear, frustration and even hostility between those with differing opinions about the process, regardless of which ‘side’ of the controversy they find themselves.

First coined by the mining industry, but oft applied by its dissenters as colloquial slang, hydraulic fracturing is indeed a term that is as often appropriated as it is misunderstood. Behind the over-simplified descriptions and hyperbole generated by investment-driven, political or even large, organized environmental interests, however, resides a leading edge mechanical application with its origins dating back to the mid-1800’s.

That long timeline is punctuated by innovation and competitive geo-political forces as well as human and wildlife populations subjected unwittingly to its failures.

Not always quietly, but under-girding it all, is the crust of our Earth and the vulnerabilities which can arise when a modern rush to exploit falls far short of predictions and promises. The result is a debate about the process itself.

I hope you will agree that any worthwhile perspective on such a controversial topic should begin with a basement view of the situation… What follows, is my attempt to briefly, but adequately do so.

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Copyright © 2012 Lisa Bracken
Copyright © 2012 The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  (May, 2012)