01 Sep 2015

An Unconventional Suggestion

Finding a middle ground in the fracking debate
by April White


© Alexandra Hootnick/zumapress.com

The United States needs to find a “rational middle” ground on the topic of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, says Professor Michael Porter.

In a report released this summer, America’s Unconventional Energy Opportunity, Porter and his coauthors from Boston Consulting Group proposed an 11-point plan of regulatory reforms, technological advances, and infrastructure and workforce development. The goal: to realize the economic benefits of unconventional gas and oil (already adding more than $430 billion to annual GDP and supporting more than 2.7 million jobs), minimize the local environmental impact of extraction, and speed the transition to cleaner, lower-carbon energy. The report’s analysis found “no inherent trade-off between environmental protection and company profitability” and found that unconventional gas and oil were “unlikely to delay” progress toward alternative energy options.

“Unconventional gas and oil represents perhaps the single largest source of competitive advantage and economic opportunity for the United States over the next decade or two,” says Porter, cochair of the School’s US Competitiveness Project. “But there is a real risk that American citizens, companies, and communities will fail to capitalize on this historic opportunity because of misunderstanding and distrust.”

Alumni may view a recording of Professor Michael Porter’s recent Trending@HBS webinar talk on this subject, and/or may download slides from the talk here.


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