Jane Barrow, CEO of Caprica Energy, must recommend to the board which of three potential “unconventional ” natural-gas development sites in different parts of the United States the company should pursue. The case takes place in January 2011, when the “low-hanging fruit ” of natural-gas production in the United States had essentially been picked. All three of the potential sites (shale, coalbed methane, and tight sands) would require hydraulic fracturing, a process of removing gas that was formerly considered inaccessible by injecting water and chemicals into the ground. Because of emerging concerns about the potential harm “fracking ” can do to drinking water, Barrow must not only analyze which site might be most profitable but also what the potential risks to the environment and area residents might be.
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