Famed journalist and grand nephew of Julie Child, Alex Prud'homme will be giving a lecture about his new book, "Hydrofracking: What Everyone Needs to Know" on Monday evening (November 4th) at the University of Chicago's International House from 6-8PM. The event is free and open to the public. It is part of the International House's Global Author Night program.
The talk is timely for Illinois residents. The state has been embattled in a debate over the recent "regulated" fracking bill which passed in May as opposed to the moratorium bill that many environmentalists have been pushing for over two years. In fact, another Daily Kos diarist wrote about this issue a couple of days ago. Environmentalists argue that the regulatory bill will not protect residents and is not fair to taxpayers as it was written, in part, by the fracking companies and their lobbyists.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat who is currently running for re-election in 2014, has not been able to avoid the conflict. The fracking issue has enraged many, would be supporters. In a 10/7/2013 article in the Midwest Energy News, Will Reynolds explains:
A massive new assault on the environmentMany of you may be familiar with Josh Fox's famous films, "Gasland" and "Gasland II" which raised serious concerns about the controversial drilling practice. Most will remember people lighting water from their garden hose and kitchen faucet on fire, allegedly due to the water supply being contaminated with methane gas from fracking. Gasland II, the newer documentary, delves into the influence that the industry has on politicians in American, even going so far as to suggest that some are not just influenced, but owned. The Guardian reported earlier this week that Josh Fox's anti-fracking movement could stop the practice in the UK.
Quinn’s most controversial action on energy is to enthusiastically launch the Illinois fracking industry, which will become one of the most expansive assaults on the environment in state history. Quinn brags that his fracking rules will create jobs while protecting the environment. But, even groups who supported the bill admit it’s inadequate. Residents will now be subjected to a massive science experiment as we wait for more proof that fracking can’t be safely regulated in a region prone to flooding and earthquakes.
Quinn had other options. As Governor, he could have supported a moratorium and pledged to veto anything else. He could have asked his staff to craft stronger regulations with or without support from industry. Instead, he asked industry lobbyists to write legislation and invited his allies in statehouse green groups to go along.
Fracking involves injecting large amounts of water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals deep into the ground and then out like the spokes on a wheel (sometimes as far as two miles) to break up shale and release either oil or natural gas. In addition to environmental/public health concerns over water contamination and air pollution contributing to climate change due to methane gas leaks, Illinois faces an additional threat. The sand/silica needed for the process is to be mined at a site right next to the iconic Starved Rock State Park, which is visited by over 2 million people and students each year. Frackers argue that the mine will create 39 permanent jobs. Fracking also threatens the Shawnee National Forest , the crown jewel of southern Illinois, as the same Daily Kos diarist wrote about last May.
The event announcement follows below the fold.
Mr. Prud'homme has written several books previously, one about water security called "The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty First Century". His writing has appeared in many periodicals, such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Time, and People.
The International House is located on the University of Chicago's famous Midway at 1414 South 59th Street, Chicago, Illinois (in Hyde Park).
Today, 90 percent of natural gas wells use fracking. Though highly effective, the process-which fractures rock with pressurized fluid-has been criticized for polluting land, air, and water, and endangering human health. Prud’homme’s Hydrofracking explores both sides of the debate, from the economic and political benefits of fracking to the health dangers and negative effects on the environment, and offers clear answers to a range of fundamental questions, including:
What is fracking fluid?
How does it impact water supplies?
Who regulates the industry?
How much recoverable natural gas exists in the U.S.?
What new innovations are on the horizon?
Written for general readers, Hydrofracking explains both the complex science of fracking and the equally complex political and economic issues that surround it, giving readers all the information they need to understand what will no doubt remain a contentious issue for years to come.