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Cracked: 15 Things to Know About Gas, Money and Power

By Eric Roston and Tom Randall - 2014-02-21T13:10:53Z

 Photograph by Ty Wright/Bloomberg

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Don't Frack Up the Word 'Fracking'

Rarely have environmentalists received a gift greater than the word "fracking."

It's a nickname for "hydraulic fracturing," the process in which water, chemicals and sand are used to liberate gas or oil trapped in shale rock formations. At once aggressive and funny-sounding, the word "frack" has popularly become synonymous with the entire shale-gas enterprise, even though engineers use it to mean a single step in the process. 

The “environmental community would be much more effective in their important work if they educated themselves on the highly technical and complex issues about hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling,” said Marliu Hastings, sustainability program director of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.

Trouble is, this fracking word is so much fun that it's a shame only to use it correctly. Frackin’ A Right!