(OilPrice) The process of hydraulic fracturing of deep underground shale rock to release its entombed natural gas for exploitation in the past decade has become a major element in U.S. energy production.

The process has ignited environmental concerns about the admixture of chemicals injected into wells to facilitate the process, with industry spokesmen insisting that the procedure is safe and protects subterranean water sources, a position strongly opposed by environmentalists, who not unreasonably point out that if the chemicals used are so benign, why does the industry not make the information publicly available?

In seeking verification for their positions, those on both sides of the debate seek academic underpinning for their arguments.

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