Book Review: Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefit by Walter Brasch.

Author:Ike, Vivian
Position:Book review
 
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Brasch, Walter M. Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefit. Sacramento: Greeley & Stone, 2015. xx + 668 pages. Paperback, $34.95.

In Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefit, Walter Brasch--an award-winning journalist with a Ph.D. in mass communication--argues that fracking is not the appropriate solution to energy and economic security in the United States of America because it poses health, environmental, and social problems, and is mainly profitable only to natural gas corporations. However, while aware of the problems associated with fracking, the American government and political officials remain in support of it. Brasch uses numerous examples and case studies to illustrate these arguments, utilizing the state of Pennsylvania as his prime example.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section introduces readers to the history, politics, and economics of fracking in America. Brasch provides a brief history of America's energy policies including how natural gas fracking became endorsed by the government as a solution to the country's energy crisis at the start of the twenty-first century. By 2035, estimates are that about 45 percent of all America's natural gas will be produced by fracking and horizontal drilling. Brasch explains that natural gas fracking generates fast profit but mostly for corporations. Despite this, the American government frames fracking as a means of producing jobs, revamping the economy, and providing temporary energy security. Here, evidence to support the government's actions is not included by Brasch, but appears necessary to present readers with an unbiased rationale for it. Nonetheless, Brasch provides readers with a compelling argument about how political officials, especially Republicans, are notorious for legalising fracking because of the gains they receive from corporations such as funds for election campaigns, cash compensations, and employment ties. He uses Pennsylvania State as the main case study because of its history with fracking and corporate-political-regulatory collusion. Pennsylvania has the largest Marcellus shale fracking site, and it is indicative of the nationwide trend.

The second section is the heart of the book and it is useful because it presents readers with the different health and environmental problems associated with fracking in America. Using examples and case studies...

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