To Frack or Not to Frack

Fracking has substantially increased the supply of oil and gas in the United States, with major economic benefits. But it also raises questions about safety and environmental impacts. There is an ongoing public debate about the continued use of this technology.

In this seminar we will learn about this newly developed technology. There are economic and environmental benefits resulting from its use, such as lower gasoline and natural gas prices plus reduced greenhouse gas emissions. However there are many questions — about ground water pollution, excessive use of limited water supplies, attendant earthquakes, methane leakage, and a fundamental question about the impact of continuing hydrocarbon usage on the planet.

The seminar will consist of both lectures and readings as a basis for class discussions about the important issues surrounding use of this controversial technology and its place in satisfying our energy needs. Members are encouraged to obtain a copy of The Science Beneath the Surface: A Very Short Guide to the Marcellus Shale (PRI Special Publication no. 43) by Don Duggan-Hass, Robert Ross, and Warren Allmon as it will provide detailed information in support of the lectures and class discussion.

  • Group Leader(s): ROBERT STUART
  • Days: Wednesdays
  • Times: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
  • Start Date: 10/16/2019
  • End Date: 11/20/2019
  • Sessions: 6
  • Exceptions: none
  • Venue: The Engineering Center
  • Teaching Style: Lecture and discussion
  • Weekly Preparation: 2 hours
  • Biography:

    Robert Stuart has a number of degrees in engineering and business, and has worked in companies dealing with cryogenic refrigeration, super conducting magnets, and nuclear waste systems. In his later career, he taught management at Northeastern University. He has led or co-led a number of courses at the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement, including courses on fracking, nuclear power, the environment, and yachting.

  • Address: 1 Walnut Street, Boston, MA 02108