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cover of May 30, 2015 issue

Erica Gies' Articles

  • Explainer: What is fracking?

    Fracking is used to bring up natural gas for fuel

    Fracking is a three-step process. Gas companies first drill a well, then frack it, then harvest the gas, says David Blackmon, who works for a gas company in Houston called El Paso Corp.

    First, the company builds a drill pad of about 24,000 square meters (about 258,000 square feet) in size. In order to create a clean surface from which to work, “We have to level off the ground and pave it with white, chalky caliche [kuh-lee-chee] rock,” Blackmon explains.

  • Fracking fuels energy debate

    In the 2010 documentary Gasland, Colorado resident Mike Markham strikes a cigarette lighter next to his kitchen faucet. He turns on the tap and waits a beat. Whoosh! A fireball shoots from the flowing stream.

    It’s a dramatic scene in a film about a technology being used to unleash huge new supplies of natural gas.

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