Hydraulic Fracturing Essay
So many people these days are stuck in the ways of their own opinions. They believe the first thing they hear on a topic and stick with it. So close-minded that they won’t even listen to someone else’s opinion before they begin to argue. A popular topic that people are stuck on is hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Either people think it’s great or they hate it. Before you have an opinion on it, what exactly is this “fracking?”
“Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers from deep within the earth… Horizontal drilling (along with traditional vertical drilling) allows for the injection of highly pressurized fracking fluids into the shale areas” (What Is Fracking). When fracking fluids are injected it makes it easier to get to the natural gasses embedded in the shale layers. Crews will work on a well for up to a month, going over a mile deep into the surface of the Earth (What Is Fracking). Fracking isn’t something that’s only going on in other countries. It’s happening here on our home turf, and our neighboring states have been huge targets.
The Bakken area and the Three Forks formations are affecting us the most. The Bakken field is in North Dakota, and yes, the Three Forks formation is the Three forks we’re all thinking of in our beloved, eastern Montana. The Bakken area covers nine counties in western North Dakota and three counties in Montana. North Dakota is the second largest oil producer in the United States after Texas (Grunewald and Batbold). From 2004 to 2012 North Dakota went from 15 active oil-drilling rigs to 180 active rigs. While we jumped by over 165 rigs, Texas jumped from 500 to 900 rigs in those same years (Grunewald and Batbold). These oil fields have yielded huge economic benefits.
Although some people may disagree, fracking has significant economic benefits. Before fracking came about, it was very difficult to get to the natural gas and oil hiding in the layers of shale over a mile below the Earth’s surface. Now we have the technology making it possible to retrieve the gas and oil that we value so much. Because we can now get to these layers, it has increased employment on our homeland, and our domestic energy companies don’t have to resort to off-shore drilling. Jobs are booming in these fields as more and more wells are drilled. Somewhere around 600,000 jobs have been created since 2002. They expect another 209,000 or so to be created by the year of 2015 (Williams). For every job created in drilling, more than three are created in supplies and service.
Williston, North Dakota is a great example of this. So many people are rushing over there to find work that there aren’t enough places for people to live. This has helped in so many ways, new houses are being built so more construction workers and engineers are need. As well as construction, people need food and entertainment so more business need built or remodeled to keep up with the rising demand. Many of the people with fracking jobs are expected to work sometimes up to 70 or 80 hours a week (Williams). That’s two full-time jobs! Because of extensive hours, some companies pay a daily bonus and well over minimum wage. Even making $8.00 an hour for 70 hours with a $50.00 daily bonus, you will earn over $1,000 per week. Plus, many companies are paying room and board for their employees as long as they are working hard. Employment isn’t the only significant benefit from fracking.
Another great benefit from fracking is the revenue created from various taxes. The Ohio Oil and Gas Association estimated that the state’s net revenue from the new oil-and-gas tax plan would nearly double, to $2.07 billion over 10 years. They plan to use the revenue by putting half the funds into regulating the industry and capping abandoned “orphan” wells, with the remaining 50 percent to flow to an income-tax-reduction fund. This would put the total tax cut at an average of around $100 million a year over a decade (Ludlow). Of course as there is with any issue, there are also disadvantages, along with the benefits.
Although fracking has some great benefits economically, there are also some disadvantages. One of the biggest issues with fracking is the amount of freshwater wasted. We mix millions and billions of gallons of water with sand and chemicals to shatter the shale. When some of the water resurfaces, it has been contaminated with chemicals and metals; so it’s no longer usable (Disadvantages). In Pennsylvania over the past three years, over 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater have been produced, that’s enough to cover Manhattan in 3 inches of water (Disadvantages). There is also the issue that the air is being polluted.
In 2010, Texas found a 25 percent increase of asthma in young children (Disadvantages). In 2013, California’s Mojave Desert became home to The Ivanpah Solar Power Facility. It is the largest solar thermal power plant in the world. The plant can generate enough power for over 140,000 houses during the peak hours of the day. It’s also believed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 400,000 tons per year (Ivanpah). It’s not just the environmental concerns that are causing problems, though.
One of the biggest economic disadvantages is the problems occurring in the boomtowns. “In 2005, the Williston Police Department in Williston, North Dakota, received 3,796 calls for service. By 2009, the number of yearly halls had almost doubled, to 6,089. In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, the Williston P.D. received 15,954 calls for service” (Riggs). Alcohol seems to be the biggest problem for officers in boomtowns. Some say around 80 to 90 percent of their calls involve someone who is under the influence (Riggs).
It’s also a known fact that crime is high in boomtowns, probably due to the alcohol consumption and use of illegal narcotics. Another big deal is the amount of prostitution going on in these boomtowns. Cops have a really hard time trying to get around to calls because of heavy congestion, and they probably don’t notice the prostitutes wandering the streets. Everyone has to make their money somehow, though, right? Anyone should be able to make money doing something they enjoy. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and opinions.
I truly believe in the saying, “to each, their own!” I really believe that hydraulic fracturing is great for the time being, maybe not in the long run. The amount of unemployment in the United States has dropped significantly since fracking came about. Many people are rushing up there to well-paying jobs, granted the cost of living is high, but it’s not exactly cheap anywhere else is it? Even places like McDonald’s are starting people out somewhere around $15.00 an hour. That’s nearly double minimum wage. Probably more than some of our parents are making an hour. I think if people are going to be happy going to live in these areas and make the “big bucks,” that’s none of our business. You’re always going to have the environmentalists who claim it’s only ruining our precious planet.
Well, these days it seems as if EVERYTHING is ruining our planet. Nothing is very “eco-friendly.” I realize that solar power is much better for the environment, but at this point not very many cars can run off of solar power. Yes, some do in a round-about way by running off electricity; if your electricity comes from a solar powered mechanism. Plus, those are the dinky little cars that can’t pull at trailer and haul things to where you need to go. What happens when we drain the sun of its “magical juices?” Well, we’ll all be dead then because we will freeze to death, so I guess that doesn’t really matter. Why not just kill our planet will big ‘ol diesel pick-up trucks? At least we kill it doing something we love, right? No matter what your opinion is someone is always going to try and get you worked up about it. No one can stand to let people have their own opinions; they always try to convince you that your opinion is wrong and you should believe what they do.
Well, all in all hydraulic fracturing has some great benefits and disadvantages. It’s an issue that people will always be hard-headed and stubborn about. So the next time you consider getting into an argument about fracking, before you even start with the argument remember, no matter what, you’re wrong.
“Disadvantages”. n.d. The Big Fracking Deal. 27 April 2014.
Grunewald, Rob and Dulguun Batbold. “Bakken Stands Out In comparison With Other Shale.” Fairfield
Sun Times (2014): np.
“Ivanpah”. 2014. Bright Source Limitless. 27 April 2014.
Ludlow, Randy. “State fracking revenue may not bring tax-cut gusher.” 9 January 2014. The Columbus
Dispatch. 27 April 2014.
Riggs, Mike. “Why Energy Boomtowns Are a Nightmare for Law Enforcement.” 18 October 2013. The
Atlantic Cities Place Matters. 27 April 2014.
What Is Fracking. n.d. 27 April 2014 .
Williams, Laura. “Jobs in the Hydrolic Fracturing Industry.” 2014. lovetoknow jobs & careers. 27 April 2014. .