General Electric Co. is investing billions in the oil and gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, buying up companies and opening a new laboratory with an eye toward the world’s future energy needs. General Electric doesn’t actually do any fracking, a controversial process that involves injecting large volumes of chemical-laced water and sand deep into the ground to break apart rock and release oil or gas.
Fracking has met fierce opposition in several states. Democrats in California’s Assembly have introduced measures to impose a moratorium on fracking. New York has had a similar ban since 2008. The company went from almost zero investment in oil and gas about a decade ago to pouring in more than $15 billion over the last few years and will be a major business focus for GE going forward.