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How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future

Click for a large cover of SNAKE OIL.

The rapid spread of ‘fracking’ (hydraulic fracturing) has temporarily boosted natural gas and oil production, particularly in the USA, but it has also sparked a massive environmental backlash in local communities. The fossil fuel industry is promoting fracking as the biggest energy development of the century, with seductive promises of energy independence and benefits to local economies.

Snake Oil casts a critical eye on the oil-industry hype that has hijacked the discussion over energy security. This is the first book to look at fracking from both economic and environmental perspectives, informed by the most thorough analysis of shale gas and oil drilling data ever undertaken. Is fracking the miracle cure-all to our energy ills, or a costly distraction from the necessary work of reducing our fossil fuel dependence?

‘Those who think fracked gas is a panacea for our energy future would do well to read this cautionary account.’ - Bill McKibben, founder of and author of Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist

‘We are already living with the false promise that fracking would not harm the environment. Now read the facts about the false promise that it will provide an energy-secure future and lots of jobs. Snake Oil debunks all the myths. It is a must-read for our elected leaders.’ - Maude Barlow, Board Chair of Food & Water Watch and author of Blue Covenant

‘Many long-time observers of the world energy scene have been wondering whether claims being made for US shale gas and tight oil are “too good to be true”. Here is hard evidence that they are indeed. America will achieve real, long-term energy independence and security only by doing two things: reducing energy demand and developing distributed renewable energy sources. - Michael Klare, Director of Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, author of The Race for What’s Left

‘Unconventional production from shales has been hyped mercilessly by the oil and gas industry. Richard Heinberg does an outstanding job of purging the myths and bringing sensibility to a dialogue which, unfortunately, has been driven by a brand of thinking on the part of energy producers that closely mimics the mentality of Wall Street.’ - Deborah Rogers, founder of Energy Policy Forum, former Wall Street financial analyst

Snake Oil exposes the unsustainable economics behind the so-called fracking boom, giving the lie to industry claims that natural gas will bring great economic benefits and long-term energy security. In clear, hard-hitting language, Heinberg reveals that communities where fracking has taken place are actually being hurt economically. For those who want to know the truth about why natural gas is a gangplank, not a bridge, Snake Oil is a must-read.’ - Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club and author of Coming Clean

RICHARD HEINBERG is an award-winning author of more than ten books, including The Party’s Over, Powerdown and The End of Growth. A Senior Fellow at Post Carbon Institute, he is one of the world’s foremost energy educators and experts on fossil fuels. He is a recipient of the M. King Hubbert award for excellence in energy education, and since 2002 has delivered hundreds of lectures to audiences around the world on fossil fuel depletion and the urgent need for a transition to cleaner forms of energy. He has been published in Nature, quoted in Time magazine, and has appeared on radio and television around the world.

Published in the UK by Clairview Books, 3 March 2014

£10.99; 160pp; 23 x 16 cm; paperback; ISBN 9781905570720