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Biography & Autobiography Social Activists

Slick Water

Fracking and One Insider's Stand against the World's Most Powerful Industry

by (author) Andrew Nikiforuk

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Nov 2015
Social Activists, Natural Resource Extraction, Environmental Science, Land Use
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2015
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2015
    List Price

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The fossil fuel industry and many environmental groups tout hydraulic fracturing — “fracking” — as a panacea, with slick promises of energy independence, greenhouse gas reductions, and benefits to local economies. Yet the controversial technology, which blasts massive volumes of fluids, sand, and chemicals into rock and coal formations, has sparked huge public protests. Slick Water tells the shocking, inspiring story of one woman’s stand to hold government and industry accountable for the damage fracking leaves in its wake.

After energy giant Encana secretly fracked hundreds of gas wells around her home and her well water turned to a flammable broth, Jessica Ernst started asking questions. When she put forward evidence that Encana had violated laws by fracturing the community's drinking water aquifer, Ernst was falsely tagged as a bomb-making terrorist and visited by the government’s anti-terrorism squad. Frightened but undaunted, she uncovered a startling history of liability, fraud, and intimidation, along with a willful denial of widespread groundwater contamination. Jessica Ernst’s remarkable story raises dramatic questions about the role of Big Oil in government, society’s obsession with rapidly depleting supplies of unconventional oil and gas, and the future of civil society.

Published in Partnership with the David Suzuki Institute

About the author

Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning Canadian journalist who has written about education, economics, and the environment for the last two decades. His books include Pandemonium, Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig's War Against Oil, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction, and The Fourth Horseman: A Short History of Plagues, Scourges and Emerging Viruses. His book Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, published to wide acclaim, won the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award and became a national bestseller. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.

Andrew Nikiforuk's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"meticulously researched....a deft history of fracking from the 1850s (when torpedoes and nitroglycerin were used) through the 1960s (nuclear explosions) to modern hydraulic fracturing."—Nature Magazine

"Slick Water is a true-life noir filled with corruption, incompetence, and, ultimately, courage. It is a deeply informative, disturbing, and important book. —Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction

"Andrew Nikiforuk crafts a stunning picture of fossil fuel industry and government abuse"— Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine

"In this balanced and meticulously researched page-turner, Andrew Nikiforuk follows Alberta whistleblower Jessica Ernst’s quest for justice with a passion, verve, and level of damning detail reminiscent of A Civil Action. ...Jessica Ernst is Canada’s Erin Brockovich, and this is an heroic book—Nikiforuk’s best one yet."— John Vaillant

Praise for The Energy of Slaves:

"...shocking and deeply enlightening. ...required reading for everyone who uses oil" —Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute, and author of The End of Growth and The Party’s Over

"A startling critique that should rouse us from our pipe dream of endless plenty." —Ronald Wright

Praise for Tar Sands:
"Andrew Nikiforuk reveals the true costs of America's oil addiction. Tar Sands tells an important story with passion and wit." —Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change

"a slashing indictment of politicians in the back pockets of energy megacorporations, of regulators cowed into acquiescence, and of all of us who look the other way as we fill our gas tanks." —Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of The Upside of Down

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