• Just the “fracts”

    Fracking is in the news. Normally I wouldn’t pay much attention. But we’re talking about a gerund whose root is a common misspelling of my name!

    In yesterday’s NY Times we learn,

    American politicians often extol natural gas as abundant, cleaner-burning than other fossil fuels, and domestically produced, unlike Middle Eastern oil. But the process of extracting it is raising concerns among people with wells in their backyards. …

    At issue is a procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which has been adopted widely in the United States over the past 10 years to extract gas trapped in shale formations. …

    Fracking involves shooting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals deep underground, to break up rock and release the gas. The technique has vastly expanded access to shale-gas reserves in the United States, including deposits in Pennsylvania, New York, Texas and Louisiana. …

    In New York, state officials are moving aggressively to protect the watershed supplying New York City with drinking water from potential contamination from hydraulic fracturing.

    Part of the problem, according to environmentalists, is that gas companies do not disclose at the wellheads what chemicals they are using. They also argue that regulations, which in the United States are mostly the responsibility of state governments rather than the national government, tend to be weak — especially in drilling-friendly places like Texas.

    Not only can’t I take any credit for the term, I have no association with it whatsoever, and it isn’t even clear it’s anything to be proud of. I just wonder who decided to turn “fracturing” (which has a “t” and no “k”) into “fracking” (which has no “t” but has a “k”). I’d have made it “fracting.” But then it’d be even harder to distance myself from it.

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