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  5. > Fracking: A contentious issue with an uncertain future

Introduction

In the US, fracking has created an oil and gas revolution. It has created jobs and led to greater energy independence. However, the process has many strong opponents who say that the environmental risks are not worth it. This debate has led to several communities and two states in the US to ban fracking. In Europe, fracking is banned in France and has been restricted in the UK.

Features and benefits

* Fracking is controversial. This case study examines claims that fracking wastes water, causes earthquakes, and leaks methane.
* Despite the shale oil and gas revolution in the US, some states and cities have rejected the practice. This case study looks at where and why.
* Fracking has been banned in some countries in Europe, with strict regulations added to others. This is looked at in detail in the case study.
* This case study also looks at how and why oil prices have changed over the last year, and what effects this might have on the fracking industry.

Highlights

In the US, a study found that fracking has created jobs, added $75bn to government coffers, and spurred energy-intensive industries. American information company HIS has estimated that the average American home's income will increase by $2,000 a year in 2015 and $3,500 a year by 2025 because of lower energy bills and reduced prices for goods.
In Europe, countries including France Scotland, Wales, Germany, the Netherlands, and Bulgaria have introduced bans or moratoriums on fracking.
In the UK, restrictions have been placed on fracking. A Guardian analysis found that of the 60% of England that is available for fracking, 39.7% was found to be affected by the bans, including the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District.

Your key questions answered

* What is fracking? What are the advantages and disadvantages of it?
* How has fracked oil and gas affected the US? Why have some states banned the practice?
* How has the outlook for the UK fracking industry changed over the last couple of years?
* Why have oil prices fallen in the last year?

Table Of Contents

Fracking: A contentious issue with an uncertain future
OVERVIEW
Catalyst
Summary
THE BENEFITS OF SHALE GAS, A FOSSIL FUEL, ARE DEBATED
Fossil fuels are cheap but unsustainable
Shale gas is obtained by fracking
Fracking is controversial, and has a number of opponents and proponents
Fracking is a drain on water sources
Fracking can leak chemically-treated water
Fracking can cause small earthquakes
Fracking releases methane, a greenhouse gas
Fracking can provide jobs and greater energy independence, as well as cut down on carbon emissions
FRACKING HAS BEEN BANNED OR RESTRICTED AROUND THE WORLD
Fracking has taken off in the US but remains controversial
The US has seen a shale gas revolution
The US is poised to become a net exporter of fracked gas
Fracking remains divisive, with many concerned about the practice
Comprehensive regulation of fracking is missing at both a federal and a state level
New York is one of two states to have banned fracking
Communities in various states have sought to ban fracking
The UK's fracking industry has been restricted by ministers
Some parts of the government have been enthusiastic about shale gas
Labour's proposals may make the UK an unattractive prospect for drilling
France was the first country to ban fracking
PLUMMETING OIL PRICES HAVE AFFECTED FRACKING
Demand has outstripped supply in recent years, keeping oil prices at around $100 per barrel
A glut in supply has caused oil prices to crash, compounded by OPEC
The future of fracking is insecure, and may rest on if oil prices recover in the next few years
CONCLUSIONS
The contentious issue of fracking raises questions about its future
APPENDIX
Definitions
Sources
Further Reading
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