The fracking boom has arguably been the biggest energy story in the United States over the past decade. Among other things, cheap shale gas from fracking has pushed down electricity prices and curtailed US carbon-dioxide emissions (by displacing dirtier coal).
MANY OF THE BIGGEST SHALE RESOURCES ARE IN WATER-STRESSED AREAS
So why hasn’t the shale boom spread elsewhere? After all, plenty of other countries — from China to Poland — have their own vast shale formations with gas and oil trapped inside. Unlocking all those supplies could, in theory, boost global natural-gas supplies by as much as 47 percent.
Water is one major constraint. The fracking process currently uses a lot of water — typically 2 to 7 million gallons per well. And as a new report from the World Resources Institute finds, many of the biggest shale resources happen to be located in areas that are already stressed for water. Here’s a map: