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by Wenonah Hauter
Older readers grew up learning that America was running out of fossil fuel. Then, a decade ago, it wasn’t. Now there’s a glut, and gasoline is cheap. Most readers are aware of one of the primary reasons: fracking, a process in which sand, chemicals, and water are forced under pressure into rock formations deep underground, extracting vastly more oil and natural gas than traditional drilling. Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, an environmental watchdog organization, delivers a passionate history and critique of the energy industry, from Standard Oil to Enron, before concentrating on recent decades. It’s a dismal fact that where oil and gas dominate economies (Russia, the Middle East), opposition barely exists. But it thrives elsewhere. France has banned fracking, but it has almost no petroleum reserves. America mirrors this disparity. There is no question where Hauter’s sympathies lie, and her grim litany of greed, corruption, and environmental damage may stir activists to action but deeply discourage general readers.
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