Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider's Stand Against the World's Most Powerful Industry

Andrew Nikiforuk. Greystone (PGW/Perseus, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $29.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-77164-076-3
This book will infuriate its readers. In a dynamite example of investigative journalism, muckraker Nikiforuk (The Energy of Slaves) chronicles the environmental devastation wrought by the hydraulic fracking industry in Alberta and beyond. Nikiforuk frames his narrative through the struggles of oil industry consultant Jessica Ernst, the "insider" of the book's subtitle who launched a $33-million-dollar (CAN$), multi-year lawsuit against Encana Energy and the Alberta government. Ernst's battle against the oil and gas industry is both personal and political: Encana illegally fracked into aquifers near her home in Alberta's badlands, causing methane gas to seep into drinking water, turning it into a flammable toxin, which Nikiforuk charges is not unusual behaviour for companies that frack (forcefully inject brine water into shales to release gas) across North America. In 14 gripping chapters, Nikiforuk follows Ernst's multi-pronged assault on Big Energy, from hiring brass-knuckled lawyers, to exhaustively cataloguing the gas industry's illegal shenanigans, to performing chemical tests on "slick water," fracking's toxic by-product. Nikiforuk peppers his rich narrative with a wealth of historical context about corruption in the industry he examines, making this book essential reading for every human whose soul is not clouded by methane or coated in oil. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/11/2016
Release date: 10/01/2015
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