Author(s): Andrew Nikiforuk
The fossil fuel industry and many environmental groups tout hydraulic fracturing -- "fracking" -- as a panacea, with slick promises of energy independence, greenhouse gas reductions, and benefits to local economies. Yet the controversial technology, which blasts massive volumes of fluids, sand, and chemicals into rock and coal formations, has sparked huge public protests. Slick Water tells the shocking, inspiring story of one woman's stand to hold government and industry accountable for the damage fracking leaves in its wake.
After energy giant Encana secretly fracked hundreds of gas wells around her home and her well water turned to a flammable broth, Jessica Ernst started asking questions. When she put forward evidence that Encana had violated laws by fracturing the community's drinking water aquifer, Ernst was falsely tagged as a bomb-making terrorist and visited by the government's anti-terrorism squad. Frightened but undaunted, she uncovered a startling history of liability, fraud, and intimidation, along with a willful denial of widespread groundwater contamination. Jessica Ernst's remarkable story raises dramatic questions about the role of Big Oil in government, society's obsession with rapidly depleting supplies of unconventional oil and gas, and the future of civil society.