The Feds and Fracking: A Chicken or Egg Question

Texas Barnett Shale gas drilling rig near Alva...

A gas drilling rig in the Barnett Shale, where George Mitchell pioneered the hydraulic fracturing techniques (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My story on Houston oilman George P. Mitchell in the latest issue of Texas Monthly is still behind the paywall, but a sidebar I wrote on the role of the federal government in developing hydraulic fracturing technology is now posted on the magazine’s web site.

I interviewed Dan Steward, one of Mitchell’s former geologists, who inadvertently sparked the controversy with comments he made several years ago. In this piece, Steward sets the record straight.

His conclusion: the feds funded some of the early research that enabled Mitchell to develop commercially successful fracking techniques, but the government’s role wasn’t as great as some federal officials contend.

Steward’s conclusion: “George probably could have done it without the government. The government would not have done it without George.”


About lorensteffy

Loren Steffy is a writer, speaker and consultant. He is the author of Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit published by McGraw-Hill in 2010 and The Man Who Thought Like a Ship, published by Texas A&M University Press in April 2012. A journalist for more than 25 years, he was most recently the business columnist for the Houston Chronicle.
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