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“Fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial technology that was originally developed over 60 years ago. It allows us to obtain oil and hydrocarbons from otherwise inaccessible underground locations by drilling thousands of feet into the Earth and intentionally fracturing the shale. The oils and hydrocarbons are collected and then refined into pipeline quality natural gas. Natural gas is cleaner, more reliable, and more abundant than other fossil fuels. In recent years, people in America have become more concerned with the environment, and fracking has been a topic of frequent debate.
We have seen firsthand what a boost these natural gas extraction facilities can give the economy, there are thousands of jobs being created and increasing amounts of refined natural gas being sold. New steel factories are being constructed to produce the materials required for the natural gas well casings. We don’t have to do a lot of dealing with trading or transport of natural gas, because most of the natural gas we use in America is extracted from our own soil. For this reason, many people are concerned with the impact fracking is having on our health and our environment.
One major issue with the process is the risk of contaminating the ground and drinking water near the fracking wells. The wells are filled with high pressure fracking fluid, which contains chemicals and metals that are harmful to humans and our soil. Another possible problem or danger is gas migration, where drilling activity can cause methane build up in nearby wells of drinking water, contaminating the air and water supply with the dangerous gas. The natural gas industry accounts for forty percent of methane gas emitted in America.
Breathing in and drinking or eating these harmful pollutants is not only directly harmful to those in the area either, as the livestock and crop can become contaminated before being distributed for sale to unknowing customers. Effects of these pollutants vary, but most of them are hazardous to human health, and can include cancer, respiratory or cardiovascular failure, and developmental damage. Fracking certainly has the potential to decrease our foreign oil dependency by tapping into our abundance of shale gas. It would definitely be best to redesign our process first, before irreversible damage is done to our environment.