For Fracking, It's Getting Easier Being Green

Producers are trying environment-friendly ways to extract oil and gas
Photo illustration by Alis Atwell; Photographs by Alamy; Getty Images

The vast majority of fracking sites in America are powered by emissions-spewing, noisy diesel engines. Which is why Ron Hyden, who’s seen a lot during his four decades in the oil patch, is eager to show off something new: a fracking machine that uses gravity and electricity generated from solar panels to send sand more quietly into a labyrinth of tubes before ultimately being shot underground to prop open tiny cracks in gas- or oil-bearing rock. The irony of gravity and solar panels being used to help capture fossil fuels isn’t lost on Hyden. “You would’ve never thought we’d give a flip about this,” says Hyden in a Texas twang as he gazes at the solar panels atop his new contraption. But, “we’re big into it.”

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