Toronto and Fracked Gas

December 15, 2012 | Zoe

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Last week I read former mayor John Sewell's article "Fracked gas coming to a T.O. neighbourhood near you" and was very surprised to learn that since early November half of Toronto's natural gas has been coming from Pennsylvania. This gas is extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial process that involves putting a water/chemical mix under high pressure in order to shatter the shale and release the gas.


The Toronto Reference Library has the first book-length analysis of fracking in the Marcellus Shale, an area stretching from West Virginia to New York. In Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale, New York journalist Tim Wilbur, details the development of the shale gas industry and brings to life all the players involved, from the first landowners who signed with the energy companies, to the politicians, industry proponents and activists.

This book reads like a novel, and the central struggle is that of an economically depressed region trying to balance the economic benefits of development with the environmental and health impacts associated with fracking, such as ground water contamination.

If you prefer to quickly get up to speed with the fracking controversy I recommend the database GREENR: Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources available from home with a library card or in a library. Here you can scan newspapers, magazines, case studies and academic journals such as Nature, Issues in Science and Technology and Environmental Health Perspectives.

In Canada, fracking takes place in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. It is banned in Quebec, and Ontario has yet to make a decision. The Toronto Public Library is a great place to start researching energy issues, as decisions being made now will have lasting impacts on Canadians.