This past March, Zakaria penned a Post column on how American energy security may benefit from shale gas—natural gas trapped within shale rock formations. Shale gas is abundant in many U.S. states and can be extracted through the application of highly pressurized fluids. This process, known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” is controversial for its alleged environmental hazards. It uses a lot of water and nasty chemicals; releases methane, a potent global-warming gas; generates residues that can leech into groundwater and poison wells; and may, some seismologists worry, cause earthquakes. Despite such concerns, Zakaria’s piece offers a strikingly optimistic endorsement, especially of shale gas’s implications for our energy security and for international politics. Since the United States has shale deposits in abundance, the threat of rising oil prices to our domestic economy, due in part to instability in the Middle East, can be reduced. And since shale gas deposits are widely dispersed globally, they provide the world leverage against menacing oil-producing nations such as Russia and Iran.
more from David V. Johnson at Boston Review here.