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The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American…
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The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed…

by Russell Gold

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Full disclosure part 1: I received this book as a First Reads Giveaway.

Full disclosure part 2: My husband works for an oil and gas company, though not one of the ones featured in this book.

I was both looking forward to and dreading reading this book. Cracking it open, I was mentally preparing myself for either a virulent anti-fracking campaign piece, or a self-aggrandizing, "drill baby drill" apologist bunk. I found neither, and I am exceedingly thankful to author Russell Gold for this book.

The first (and largest) portion of this book outlines the history of shale gas, and the industries that have risen up to exploit it. This, for me was the most enjoyable part, appealing to the historian in me. And the history of shale gas, in human terms is only about two centuries old, but encompasses some golden moments of human brilliance and creativity, as well as some moments of stunning dumbassery.

The latter part of the book focuses on the controversy surrounding natural gas, and the push and pull between industry lobbyists, environmentalists, ambitious businessmen, and scrambling politicians. The current state of natural gas is complex and shifting, and, unfortunately, becoming highly polarized between the "never" and the "without hesitation" camps.

Gold manages to tread back and forth between the far reaches of each camp, laying out the arguments on both sides, and presenting, to my mind, a fair picture of the pros and cons of our country's use of natural gas. In an ear where everything seems to have some underlying political agenda, I found this book to be refreshingly objective, especially considering the subject matter is one that currently lends itself to an "I'm right, and you're wrong" mentality.

In sum, Gold's book paints a fascinating picture of the Oil and Gas Industry from historical (and prehistorical) times through to the modern era. For anyone looking for a better grasp of the current debate, I feel he excels at laying out the argument from both sides without rancor or excessive judgement.

I am especially appreciative that he uses this history, and the current status of the industry to make an all important point: Natural gas is not Satan, but nor is it our savior. We must do the best we can with what we have now, and use this time to pursue new and better fuel sources that will sustain us through the centuries ahead.
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  irregularreader | Oct 31, 2016 |
I just finished this as we were discussing the topic on Facebook. I admit I had my reservations when I saw the author wrote for the Wall St. Journal which is usually blindly pro-free market and heavily for deregulation. He proved to be very thorough and balanced in his treatment of fracking, showing the downside and the potential upside. He does reveal the disturbing practices and deception used by the fracking companies and how they use inadequate equipment, cause a lot of damage, and resist any type of oversight. Well worth the read if you wish to investigate the topic further. I did not care for all the comprehensive biographical sketches, but other than that, it moved along quite well. Readers should be advised that there is a great deal of technical talk in the narrative, but that is necessary to hone in on the major points. ( )
  VGAHarris | Jan 19, 2015 |
As someone who has been working in the energy sector for more than 40 years, I am probably more familiar with the subject of drilling and fracking than the average citizen, but I still learned some things from Russell Gold's "The Boom." It is always healthy to look at an issue as sensitive as fracking from both points of view, and this is something that Gold does an admirable job of doing via this book.

The new fracking technology was originally intended to tap into the huge natural gas reserves that were until the last decade or so pretty much beyond the ability of contemporary drilling methods to recover. That technology has proved to be just as effective in the recovery of shale oil that had previously been way to expensive to recover and bring to market.

The question now is one of safety and environmental impact of the fracking techniques being used in so many thousands of wells each year. Economically, there is no doubt that fracking has had a huge beneficial impact on the country. Environmentally, the final judgement is yet to be reached because, while it is true that some water wells have been contaminated by natural gas leaking into the neighboring water systems, this has happened so few times that there is not great impact involved - so far. On the other hand, those who lease their property to drilling companies do often find their personal lives shattered and changed forever by all the drilling activity that suddenly springs up around their homes, farms, and ranches. Of course, they can always take the big money and run - and lots of them do - but that's not a welcome option for everyone.

Too, substituting natural gas in place of coal in the electricity-generating process cannot help but have an immediate, and positive, and positive impact on the environment. The U.S., in fact, is one of the few countries in the world (despite never signing the Kyoto Agreement) that has significantly cleaned up its air in during the past two decades. Many environmentalist have reluctantly come to the conclusion that natural gas is a "bridge fuel" that buys the world more time to develop alternative fuels that we can actually afford, ones that will actually provide ALL of the energy we need in this country and not just a tiny fraction of it.

So, love fracking or hate fracking. It's your choice - and "The Boom" might help you decide which side of the issue you favor. ( )
  SamSattler | Oct 20, 2014 |
A good, well-written book about fracking and it's various impacts on our culture. There is a lot of negative publicity out about this book and it's not being a even approach to the topic. Disagree, because tis not necessary. On the cover is enough information to let the reader know where the author is coming from. We need to stop being PC over everything. Liked the book and that comes from someone w/ a background in geology and environmental concerns. ( )
  untraveller | Sep 20, 2014 |
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"Fracking has vociferous critics and fervent defenders, but the debate between these camps has obscured the actual story: Fracking has become a fixture of the American landscape and the global economy. It has upended the business models of energy companies around the globe, and it has started to change geopolitics and global energy markets in profound ways. Gold tells the story of this once-obscure oilfield technology--a story with an incredible cast of tycoons and geologists, dreamers and drillers, speculators and skeptics, a story that answers a critical question of our time: Where will the energy come from to power our world--and what price will we have to pay for it?" --… (more)

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