Energy reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Russell Gold, discussed his work covering the hotly contested subject of fracking. Everyday one hundred wells in the U.S. are drilled and hydraulically fractured - or fracked. Fracking, he explained, involves turning a well horizontally, and running it through a very dense rock such as shale, and then pumping it with water, chemicals, and sand with extraordinary pressure. This causes the rock to fracture, and then oil and gas escape from the fractures and flow into the wells. What has become clear from this process is that there is an enormous amount of oil and gas left in the United States, and this energy boom has become a huge opportunity, he remarked.
Fracking has emerged as a fixture of the American landscape and global economy, yet there are concerns that the process can cause environmental damage, including water contamination, air pollution, and earthquakes. Based on his research, Gold has concluded that when there have been environmental problems with fracking it has to do with faulty wells, but most often energy companies are doing the process correctly and relatively safely.
Interestingly, the biggest complaint he heard from residents who live in fracking towns is the increased industrialization and traffic to their area, rather than environmental worries. One of the downsides to this new bounty of gas and oil, he added, is that its usage may contribute further to our climate problems, until renewable energy becomes more widespread. What is your take on fracking? Vote in our poll.
First hour guest, technology and privacy expert Lauren Weinstein addressed various tech topics in the news. A "kill switch" on all cell phones will be mandatory by 2015, which will allow people to remotely disable or wipe their phones, in order reduce theft. But this requires users to set up this feature in advance of their phone being lost or stolen, he noted. Weinstein also touched on such topics as the end of Microsoft supporting the XP operating system, and the 'Heartbleed' security bug.