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What’s the Fracking Problem? Essay

Why does everyone care so much about natural gas? Why is it such an essential part of modern culture? Sure, it’s an exciting and up and coming technology, which is fuel for the technological generation that we’ve grown up in, but we need to take a closer look to see the methods and impacts that could affect generations after us.

Water is one of our important resources that were given to us by mother nature. We see water as a source for survival and many more advantages. It’s fragile, and the smallest amount of contaminants could ruin it for a population, yet one of the major ingredients in fracking processes is the water. Reports of accidents involving water contamination are everywhere. The basic process of fracking is its uses of incredible amounts of gallons of water per drill and drilling so close to groundwater sources risk contamination. “Accidents have already been documented and citizen’s well waters have been tainted with toxic chemicals”, according to the Climate Progress. (Foster) Many of the chemicals used in the fracking process are proven toxins. These include benzene, ethyl-benzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene, and other hazardous chemicals that are harmful if any contact is made.

For these reasons, fracking in the United States should be halted. All around the United States, there are areas where the drilling takes place. Everywhere, people were told that there is nothing to worry about and that hydraulic fracturing was safe. Those people were being lied to. People in their homes were reporting health issues. Everything leads up to the water, and not the water that was once safe, but the water they came to know after the drilling of the wells. Environmental laws have been violated time after time. What is most outrageous is that families in their homes aren’t able to shower or use the water at all because they were fearful of their health. There are even reports of rashes on the skin and many other health problems.

Fracking has risks of contaminating not only the water, but every resource and every creature on every level of the ecosystem. (1) There are human casualties. People have died from this, whether becoming extremely sick from water contamination or suffering extreme burns or death from plant explosions. There are documented incidents of marine life being killed due to water contamination and pipe spills. Land that could otherwise be used for agriculture and farming are being leased and drilled, used to store toxic chemical waste water: the land that was once green and lush is now mechanical and full of steel and robot-like equipment.

Regardless of whatever the economic or political benefits may potentially be, it is the environmental and health issues surrounding the practice of hydraulic fracking that has drawn protests from activists and some communities. Even critics of shale gas have also raised concerns about leakage of the greenhouse gas methane and other hydrocarbon gases and liquids. Federal government estimates affirmed that more than one million tons of methane were emitted annually from shale gas production. A University of Texas-Austin study found that methane emissions from new wells being prepared for production captured 99% of the escaping methane-on average 97% lower than estimates released in 2011 by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is the most comprehensive shale gas emissions study ever undertaken on methane leakage, covering 190 well pads around the United States. (Entine,1)

If methane is released directly into the atmosphere it can cause greater climate change than carbon dioxide. The myth on how natural gas is a better source of energy is not true. By this point there is that question in your head: if hydraulic fracturing is so bad, then why hasn’t it been stopped? There are many answers to that question; one is because it has been said that hydraulic fracturing provides people with jobs, and our economy will be better. Another is because even after all the evidence, gas companies refuse to take responsibility for their actions, using the excuse that it is not their fault. Let’s face it, people need the money, and some don’t mind taking the risk of their water becoming harmful, some don’t even realize how critical the case is. In spite of that, there are people out there, who do realize the harmful effects that fracking can cause, and these people are the ones who are fighting for the purity and future of water.

Even more disturbing to some, possible groundwater contamination is the claim that the methane released during the extraction process cancels out any of the assumed environmental benefits. Although the overall amounts are relatively low, methane has one-hundred and five times more warming impact pound for pound than carbon dioxide, and so a little really does go a long way when it comes to climate change. Not surprisingly, there is wide disagreement on how much methane is being leaked into the atmosphere as part of the fracking process.

Many people argue that we need hydrofracking. The economy is faltering, and more jobs are desperately needed. However, hydrofracking will harm the economy, both in the long and short term. Most industry workers won’t come from local areas, so relatively few people will get jobs. Perhaps local hotels and restaurants will get more traffic, but farmers will lose business. No one would go to a farmer’s market if they knew the produce could be contaminated with carcinogens and radioactivity from hydrofracking. As well, tourism is one of the region’s largest industries. Tourists visit to breathe clean air and relax. The tourist industry won’t survive long once the atmosphere reeks of industrial pollutants. What ever jobs that are gained will be lost once the resource is fully exploited.

Some environmentalists support hydrofracking; they think natural gas is an essential transition fuel that will stop America off dirtier fuels and will reduce our CO2 emissions. Yet natural gas is still a fossil fuel, and it still releases plenty of greenhouse gasses. Instead of investing in gas infrastructure, energy companies should develop more truly renewable energy.

Natural gas fracking is a bad idea which should never be considered. As found by the EPA , it pollutes ground water and has also been blamed for earthquakes. (Walsh 1) In reality, there is no valid reason to even approach this kind of drilling because it’s less expensive to produce green energy and stay away from fossil fuels . Better water-treatment options could change the way oil and gas producers operate by making it economical to treat water at fracking sites instead of trucking it long distances to large¬†water-treatment facilities or disposal wells. Also, according to Pacific Institute, with the proper safeguards, “disposing of waste water by underground injection reduces the risk of releasing waste water contaminants into the environment”. (25)

Fracking is a dangerous activity which helps only oil industry executives. It isn’t necessary, it isn’t economically or environmentally-sound, we don’t need it now, we won’t need it in the future, and there is no point in using it ever. The same money can be used to create a hydrogen-based energy economy that is renewable, ongoing, and scalable. It would be inexpensive and easy to alter our current infrastructure to accommodate.

Fracking is a gamble. The benefits of natural gas and the possibilities for its use are definitely great: it brings an economic prosperity to all involved and supplies the market with an in-demand product. However, the consequences are just as bad and the measures taken to ensure those consequences do not happen are simply ridiculous. It risks environmental, human, and ecosystem damage for both current and future generations and puts power into the hands of greedy individuals with little to no responsibility for its misfortunes.

I think of further generations being able to drink the same healthy and clean water that we have today. Fracking is not only affecting this generation, but the ones after us, and after them. I believe hydraulic fracturing should be stopped, but if not that, at least we, the people, deserve to know the dangers and solutions for them.

Works Cited

Cooley, Heather, and Kristina Donnelly. ” Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction” . Oakland: n.p., 2012. Print.

Entine, Jon. “University Of Texas-Environmental Defense Fund Shale Gas Study Unmasks Politics of Anti-Fracking…” Forbes . Forbes Magazine, 18 Sept.

Web. 27 Jan. 2014.

Foster, Joanna M. “More Than Flaming Water: New Report Tracks Health Impacts of Fracking on Pennsylvania Residents’ Health.”Think Progress RSS. N.p., n.d.

Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
“Frack Fluid Spill Contaminates Stream, Killing Fish.” MNN . Propublica, 22 Sept. 2009.

Web. 28 Jan. 2014.

Walsh, Bryan. “Science & Space.” Science Space Contaminated EPA Says Fracking Likely Polluted Groundwater Comments . N.p., 09 Dec. 2011.

Web. 28 Jan. 2014.

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