Fracking: The new global water crisis

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Executive Summary of Fracking: The new global water crisis, published March 9, 2012 by Food and Water Watch

Within the past decade, technological advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” have enabled the oil and gas industry to extract large quantities of oil and natural gas from shale formations in the United States. However, the practice has proven controversial. Pollution from modern drilling and fracking has caused widespread environmental and public health problems and created serious, long-term risks to underground water resources.

In this report, Food & Water Watch reviews the risks and costs of shale development that have been demonstrated in the United States, including economic costs that run counter to industry-backed claims about the economic benefits of the practice.

Food & Water Watch then summarizes the state of shale development in six selected countries: France, Bulgaria, Poland, South Africa, China and Argentina.


  • The government of Poland has welcomed oil and gas industry plans to develop shale resources in the country, but charges of bribery during the process of awarding leases have tainted these plans.
  • Pending an environmental review by the South African government, Royal Dutch Shell may soon be granted permission to drill and frack in South Africa’s Karoo Basin.
  • The Chinese government is pushing an expansion of shale development, and numerous oil and gas companies are partnering with Chinese firms, both in the United States and in China.
  • In Argentina, oil and gas companies have begun developing shale oil and shale gas resources in the Neuquén Basin, with the support of the Argentinean government.

Instead of exposing their citizens to the damages of modern drilling and fracking, countries around the world should enact national bans on the practice and invest aggressively in the deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

Download the full report (PDF)