GE is getting into the fracking business; well, sort of. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a hot technology in the oil and gas business. Fracking allows companies to extract precious natural gas from previously untapped locations, like the massive Marcellus Shale. Unfortunately, this comes at an enormous environmental cost but GE is banking on its multi-billion dollar investment that it can produce technology that will mitigate the environmental impacts of fracking.

The environmental costs of fracking include contaminated water supplies, air pollution, unstable ground that is more prone to earthquakes, and the fracking process itself uses a tremendous amount of water.

So how does GE plan to help? According to Associated Press’ Kevin Begos, the company has invested more than $15 billion over the past few years. These investments include buying out other companies as well as building a research lab in Oklahoma.

GE senior vice president Mark Little said, "My own view is there things can be managed," Little said of concerns about drilling, adding they need to be managed carefully. He drew a parallel to GE's work with the aircraft industry, since many decades ago flying was considered a risky business, but the industry evolved so that even as the speed, distance and number of flights increased, overall safety improved greatly.” Source: Huffington Post

The correlation between improving the fracking industry and the airline industry doesn’t make much sense to me. Sure, both involve technological advancements and innovation but beyond that, I don’t get the relationship. Am I missing something obvious?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for improvements in technology that would lessen the environmental and social impacts of fracking but I think GE is trying to greenwash their involvement in the industry. Hey, look at us, we’re trying to make fracking environmentally sound! Yes, maybe, but GE executives also know that the fracking industry is in a huge boom and the company stands to profit, substantially, from their involvement.

Will GE's investment help mitigate fracking's environmental impacts?
A new laboratory in Oklahoma and corporate buyouts marks GE's entry into the fracking industry.