US Government Role in Shale Gas Fracking History: An Overview

The history behind the shale gas boom remained relatively unknown until late 2011, when researchers at the Breakthrough Institute conducted an extensive investigation revealing the role that federal agencies like the Department of Energy and the National Laboratories played in supporting gas industry experimentation with shale fracking.

Featured in the Washington Post and the President's 2012 State of the Union, this Breakthrough investigation enunciates again the crucial role that the federal government has always played in technological innovation.


Lessons From The Shale Revolution: A Report On The Conference Proceedings
by Loren King, Ted Nordhaus, and Michael Shellenberger, April 2015

Where the Shale Gas Revolution Came From: Government's Role in the Development of Hydraulic Fracturing in Shale
by Michael Shellenberger, Ted Nordhaus, Alex Trembath, and Jesse Jenkins, May 2012

Other Analyses and Opinions

Shale Fracking Innovation Timeline
by Alex Trembath, April 2015

"Fracking's War on Coal"
speech by Ted Nordhaus at the Utah Energy Summit on the role of the government in accelerating energy transitions, June 4, 2014

"Uniting a Fractured Republic: Pragmatism, Innovation, and the Shale Revolution"
blog post by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus on embracing technological innovation, November 7, 2012

"Beyond Cap and Trade: A New Path to Clean Energy."
Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus at YaleE360 on the implications of the shale revolution on clean energy development, February 27, 2012

"Shale Revolution Challenges Left and Right." Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus in the American Enterprise Institute's The American on the lessons of the shale gas revolution, February 22, 2012

Obama's Energy Revolution: The President references Breakthrough Institute's shale gas investigation in his February 2012 State of the Union

​"A boom in shale gas? Credit the feds."
Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus in the Washington Post, December 16, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions About Natural Gas

Interviews with Shale Pioneers

Alex Crawley, Former Program Director for the Energy Research and Development

Interview with Terry Engelder, Penn State University

Interview with Dan Steward, formerly of Mitchell Energy

Interview with Dave Northrop, formerly of Sandia National Labs

Interview with Norm Warpinski, Director of Technology for Pinnacle

Interview with Bob Hanold, formerly of Los Alamos National Laboratory

Interview with William Burnett, formerly of the Gas Research Institute