Federal Fracking Response Could Be Years Away

08/18/2011 10:36 pm ET | Updated Oct 18, 2011

A liquid concoction, often laced with toxic chemicals, is a central villain in the controversy over extracting natural gas by fracturing rock beneath the earth's surface. Opponents fear this fracking fluid may foul water supplies, endangering human health and the environment.

Adapting, the industry is responding to public concern. Giant energy services company Halliburton, in a safety demonstration at an August 3 industry conference in Colorado, had an employee demonstrate just how palatable fracking fluid can be. He drank it.

But the formula was different this time, the company says - more environmentally friendly because it is made from ingredients used by the food industry, including sweeteners found in chocolate, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and part of recipes for baby wipes and shampoos.

Totally safe, says Halliburton spokesperson Tara Mullee Agard - though "not intended for human consumption."