Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Lies, Damned Lies, and Fracking

Peak oil? Bah! Fracking will save us and keep us energy independent for centuries – right? Wrong.

In Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future — now available through Chelsea Green — Post Carbon Institute’s senior fellow Richard Heinberg explains in detail how and why the oil and gas industry – aided and abetted by allies in the government and on Wall Street – are selling us a pack of lies when it comes to the promise of fracking.

Heinberg systematically debunks the snake oil sales pitches to provide readers, and anti-fracking activists, the real information they need – along with critical arguments to combat industry lies.

Stitching together proprietary industry data and years of his own research, Snake Oil tells the story about shale gas wells that cost more to drill than their gas is worth at current prices; Wall Street investment banks driving independent oil and gas companies to produce uneconomic resources just so brokers can collect fees; and official agencies that have overestimated oil production and underestimated prices consistently for the past decade.

Heinberg also relates stories gathered from people who live close to the nation’s thousands of fracked oil and gas wells—a tale of how drinking water, air, soil, livestock, and wildlife are poisoned or degraded; how companies fail to pay agreed lease fees; how property values actually decline; and how neighbor turned against neighbor.

In Snake Oil, you’ll find out why:

  • The oil and gas industry’s recent unexpected successes will prove to be short-lived, far shorter than we’ve been led to believe.
  • Their actual, long-term significance has been overstated because they are often double counting, or counting reserves that are too expensive to access given current technology.
  • New unconventional sources of oil and gas production come with hidden costs (both monetary and environmental) that society cannot support in the long-term, and maybe not the short-term.

Heinberg’s chief conclusion and observation is that the oil and gas industry’s exaggerations of future supply have been motivated by short-term financial self-interest, and, to the extent that they influence national energy policy, they are a disaster for America and for future generations.

Previously, Chelsea Green Publishing and Post Carbon Institute combined forces to produce the Community Resilience Guide series — three books that examined how to relocalize food, monetary, and energy systems. Despite the stranglehold that multinational corporations have on these three resources, there are local solutions that you, and your community, can use to become more sustainable and resilient for years to come.


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