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Modern Environmental Issues: Fracking Essay

The topic in question is hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. Said practice is vital to study because at the moment there are many questions about its potential negative effect on our environment, yet oil companies are pushing for its complete legality. The four articles used include Fracking practices in offshore California waters by oil companies probed by regulators (Jason Dearen and Alicia Chang, Los Angeles Daily News), Fracking war: Sierra Club says bill not good enough (Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times), As Obama Visits Upstate New York, the Fracking Debate Takes Center Stage (Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine), and Fracking is Eating Away at Our National Parks (Mary Catherine O’Connor, Outside Magazine). The authors all appear to be regular staff journalists for their respective publications.

The article from The Los Angeles Daily News uses information provided by Samantha Joye, a Marine biologist at the University of Georgia. Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, was also quoted. The two had very different opinions on fracking’s overall safety. The article from the Los Angeles Times uses information provided by Kathryn Phillips, the California director for the Sierra Club, along with information from liberal activist groups Credo and MoveOn, and finally from Paul Deiro, lobbiest from the Western States Petroleum Association.

Obviously, Deiro’s opinion on fracking’s safety was much more favorable for the oil companies than from any of the other sources, who all oppose the practice. The Time Magazine article quoted Walter Hang, the head of an organization called Toxic Targeting, along with President Obama, and New York State Governor Andrew Cumo. Finally, the Outside Magazine article quoted James Nations, leader of the NPCA’s Center for Park Research, a U.S. Geological Survey, and Clay Jenkinson, a Theodore Roosevelt scholar who appears in a short film that goes along with the report.

The focus of the Los Angeles Daily News article was all about regulation of offshore fracking off the Coast of California and how it must be better regulated, as right now too many pollutants are entering our water. The Los Angeles Times article focuses on how the Sierra Club, along with other liberal and environmental activist groups are calling for an outright ban on fracking instead of stricter restrictions. The time magazine article focuses on angry New Yorkers and how they will be protesting President Obama, who is adamantly in favor of fracking. The Outside Magazine article explains a new report put out by the US government, highlighting fracking close to national parks. It displays how the practice could negatively affect our national parks’ delicate ecosystems.

The Los Angeles Daily News article had no photos or diagrams at all. The Los Angeles Times article had one photo of a fracking site in Kern County. The photo was neutral to the story. The Time Magazine article had a photo of angry anti-fracking protestors. The Outside Magazine article was the most comprehensive, with a photo of Theodore Roosevelt national park, and a map of the United States, displaying the national parks most venerable to fracking pollution.

Other than the Time Magazine article, which seemed neutral to the issue, all of the articles seemed to be rather anti-fracking. This comes as no surprise because the issues brought up in all three could have negative impacts on the lives of the authors of the articles. In my opinion, fracking should be totally illegal until more conclusive studies have been performed, and prove said practice does not have a detrimental effect on our environment, specifically groundwater and ocean water.

To improve the articles there should be more diagrams and graphs to better display the information in a more straightforward manor. The only way for the public to have a better understanding of these issues is if popular television media focuses on important environmental debates such as fracking, instead of stories that will have little to no lasting impact. Further, the environmental groups need to advertise as much as they can, whether it be on television or the Internet.

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