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BOOK REVIEW: "The Frackers" by Gregory Zuckerman

Portfolio/Penguin via San Angelo Standard-Times
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Gregory Zuckerman's book "The Frackers" tells the unexpected story of how a once-obscure method of producing oil and natural gas from shale rock led to a huge American energy boom — and to a bitter debate over whether that's a great thing or an environmental disaster.

The subject of fracking often provokes extreme emotions, and the 393 pages of "The Frackers" takes the positive view. It's written as an old-fashioned American success story as the founders of small independent companies, not multinational corporations, ignore everyone, risk everything and finally hit it big. And in this case big means billions of dollars, not millions.

"The Frackers" isn't a work of great literature, but both supporters and opponents of the drilling boom will find important reporting that illuminates the current debate. It's worth knowing that George Mitchell, who did more than anyone to unlock the potential of shale rock fracking, lost a $200 million lawsuit in the early 1990s to Texas landowners who claimed his drilling fouled their water (the judgment was thrown out on appeal).

And while the characters in "The Frackers" are generally celebrated as self-made men, Zuckerman also mentions that the drillers benefited from U.S. Department of Energy research. A federal tax credit that aimed to promote new sources of fossil fuel energy helped, too, so while the businessmen took much of the risk, government also promoted the shale boom.

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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