By Brian Merchant, TreeHugger
If you read green news, even if only sporadically, you’ve heard of “fracking.” If you follow progressive politics, you’ve heard of fracking. If you know much about modern energy production, you’ve heard of fracking. If you’re an environmentalist, you’ve probably protested fracking.
But those descriptions don’t apply to the 63% of Americans who’ve never heard of, or aren’t familiar with, the practice known as hydraulic fracturing. That’s the eye-opening finding of a new poll, and one that was carried out with a pretty decent sample size to boot. Here’s how the results break down:
That’s crazy. Fracking has fundamentally transformed the energy debate—and energy production—around the world. It has helped create the glut of natural gas we’re currently sitting on, and that in turn is helping to drive coal out of business. It also poses numerous health and environmental risks that everyone—especially those who live in fracking-impacted areas—should be aware of. It can contaminate groundwater, spur small earthquakes, blast methane emissions into the sky, etc.
The poll reveals that there’s a lot of work yet to be done on energy education (that’s a massive understatement all around)—the public can’t make informed decisions about the controversial practice if it doesn’t even said controversial practice exists, after all.
So, for those of you reading this who’ve never heard of fracking: It’s the process wherein companies blast a highly pressurized chemical cocktail deep down into the earth, in order to fracture the rock layer to gain access to reserves of oil or gas. Pass it on.