There may be no more decisive environmental issue in America today than hydrofracking, or 'fracking' as it is commonly called, referring to the use of highly pressurized water and chemicals to extract gas trapped in subterranean shale formations. Opponents decry its pollution of water, ground, and air, and lament the lack of oversight in the industry. Proponents argue that it has created jobs, spurred industry, lowered carbon emissions, and provided an economic boon to many communities across the country, including some of the poorest. The fight is highly polarized, with 'fracktivists' pressuring Washington to put restrictions in place and advocates touting energy independence and the environmental benefits of replacing coal with natural gas. In this book the author explains the basics of hydraulic fracking, considers the economic and political benefits, and explores concerns about health dangers and damage to the environment. Stepping back from the impassioned debate, he offers an introduction to one of the country's most contentious issues. -- From back cover.