Britain and the F Word

Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

A protester makes her feelings known outside a Cuadrilla fracking site in West Sussex, England.

Over the past few years, no environmental issue besides climate change has managed to capture the world's attention as much as fracking. That's the industrial process used by energy companies to break open underground shale-rock layers with pressurized water and chemicals, accessing otherwise trapped deposits of natural gas and oil. Fracking has transformed the energy industry: in the U.S. alone, natural gas production from shale deposits hit 230 billion cu m in 2012, nearly double 2010's total, and the price of natural gas has fallen by over 80% since 2008.

But the...

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