In this April 23, 2010 photo, a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well site is seen near Burlington, Pa., in Bradford County. So vast is the wealth of natural gas locked into dense rock deep beneath Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio that some geologists estimate it's enough to supply the entire East Coast for 50 years. But freeing it requires a powerful drilling process called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking,"using millions of gallons of water brewed with toxic chemicals that some fear threaten to pollute water above and below ground, deplete aquifers and perhaps endanger human health and the environment. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
Ralph Wilson / AP
‘energy, explained’ podcast: Author Bethany McLean, ‘Saudi America’ and what you might not know about the fracking industry
Susan Phillips tells stories about the consequences of political decisions on people's every day lives. She has worked as a reporter for WHYY since 2004. Susan's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election resulted in a story on the front page of the New York Times. In 2010 she traveled to Haiti to cover the earthquake. That same year she produced an award-winning series on Pennsylvania's natural gas rush called "The Shale Game." She received a 2013 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Journalism Award for her work covering natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. She has also won several Edward R. Murrow awards for her work with StateImpact. In 2013/14 she spent a year at MIT as a Knight Science Journalism Fellow. She has also been a Metcalf Fellow, an MBL Logan Science Journalism Fellow and reported from Marrakech on the 2016 climate talks as an International Reporting Project Fellow. A graduate of Columbia School of Journalism, she earned her Bachelor's degree in International Relations from George Washington University.
Scott Blanchard is editor of StateImpact Pennsylvania, an award-winning public media collaboration among WITF, WHYY in Philadelphia and The Allegheny Front in Pittsburgh that covers the state’s energy economy.
Before joining StateImpact in 2017, Blanchard was enterprise editor at the York (Pa.) Daily Record, where he led the newsroom’s investigative and projects reporting. He was a 2013 Ochberg Fellow, receiving training at Columbia University in PTSD science, self-help and peer support. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Society of News Editors. A Rockville, Md., native, he is a graduate of the University of Missouri’s journalism school.
Courtesy Columbia Global Reports
Bethany McLean, author of “Saudi America: The truth about fracking and how it’s changing the world”
Author Bethany McLean was “fascinated” by former CEO and co-founder of Chesapeake Energy, Aubrey McClendon, and his role in the rise of the fracking industry. That fascination is part of what led to her book “Saudi America: The truth about fracking and how it’s changing the world.”
McLean, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, peered into the business side of fracking and found an industry that is moving “astonishing” amounts of money but isn’t as financially strong as it might seem.
“McClendon’s Chesapeake is also the example of just how much cash these enterprises, these fracking enterprises, can burn through and how financially weak they can be despite this idea that they are changing the world,” McLean says in the podcast. “That conundrum was really interesting to me.”
In this episode of StateImpact Pennsylvania’s podcast “energy, explained,” McLean talks to StateImpact’s Susan Phillips about the book, the fracking industry and topics including why McLean says there is “no such thing” as American energy independence, and how that concept could pose a long-term threat to U.S. energy leadership. Listen here: