Fracking is a fairly new method of extracting natural gas. Fracking can be defined as a method to remove natural gas from the ground. Another way to describe fracking also known as hydraulic fracturing is the process of creating fissures in underground formations to allow natural gas to flow (Natural Gas Extraction – Hydraulic Fracturing | US EPA). This allows the gasses to leak through the cracks to be effectively captured and stored for use. The process for fracking is as follows: First they begin by drilling approximately 6,000 feet into the ground, penetrating through several geological layers. Once the desired depth is made, the drilling turns ninety degrees and continues horizontally several thousand feet into shale that contains the trapped natural gas. A mixture of water, sand, and various chemicals are pumped into the well (Simeonova). The pumping produces a split shale so that the natural gas can flow. The natural gas escapes through the cracks made in the shale and flows to the surface to be processed and refined.
To some Americans, fracking has become an energy dreams come true. For others, fracking has become an environmental nightmare. The dream and nightmare of Americans are the new drilling technology, called hydraulic fracking. In the United States, fracking has become a fiercely debated issue, as the industry emphasizes the benefits the practice holds and health and environmental groups question its safety. While fracking has created jobs and provided record-low natural gas prices, it comes with another kind of cost the risks the environment and health. There are many pros and cons to fracking. The pros to fracking allow for potential energy independence. A large amount of natural gas has been obtained through fracking in recent years that the United States carbon production are declining. The United States Energy Information Administration estimates that just less than half of the decline in production is owed to the alternative of shale gas for electrical energy production instead of coal burning (U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)). Fracking wells and shale gas are currently less expensive than coal in the United States. President Obama has commended the United States use of natural gas in his speech on climate change attributing it with producing cleaner energy. Many have described fracking as the bridge between the carbon-based energy systems of the past and a cleaner, greener future. Over the past few years, improvements in fracking technology have increased reserves of natural gas in the United States for the first time. According to the Energy Information Administration, shale gas plays, or fields, in the United States; most notably the Marcellus, in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York, and in Texas are said to contain enough natural gas to power the country for 110 years (Is Fracking a Good Idea?). Fracking is currently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act of 2005. The United States Department of Energy estimates that fracking will produce approximately 2.6 trillion barrels of oil reserves if fracking is done (Simeonova). Fracking has improved the economy since companies have lower drilling cost, they can pass the savings onto their customers. The cons to fracking are the potential environmental hazards the process can produce as a serious threat. The issues environmentalist has with fracking lies in the removal method. To remove the gas, a mixture of toxic chemicals are forced into the shale at high pressure. When this issue occurs they find their way to the surface through accidents at the well heads that pushes fluids to the surface. A high percentage of fracking fluid made with water flows back up the well, and is collected in open pits until it can be sent to a treatment plant (Is Fracking a Good Idea?). Fracking can produce airborne pollutants like methane, benzene, and sulfur oxide (Is Fracking a Good Idea?). A variable sum of fracking fluid exists in the ground after a well has run dry. If these fluids remain far underground, they might not damage the human environment. These chemicals have potential cancer-causing properties have been used in fracking (Natural Gas Extraction – Hydraulic Fracturing | US EPA). A variable sum of fracking fluid exists in the ground after a well has run dry. The environmentalist are concern about these toxic pollutants and want laws to protect the environment. Many laws have loopholes when it comes to fracking. For example, an exception to the environmental safety regulations does not demand fracking well operators to report annual releases of toxic chemicals from their wells (Centner, 2013). They also are not required to reveal the chemical materials of the fluids they use in the fracking process. These are deemed secrets of the trade. This may seem contradictory that the companies that use fracking do not have to reveal the contents of their fracking chemicals but when the companies that produce household cleaning products must disclose detail contents of the chemicals they use. The EPA is exploring different disposal methods used by industry to safeguard regulatory and ensure frameworks are in place to provide safe and legal options for disposal of flow-back and produced water. These options include use of surface impoundments (pits or ponds) for storage or disposal and recycling of wastewater (Natural Gas Extraction – Hydraulic Fracturing | US EPA).
A major technological and economic concern in our society is to find alternative ways to developed cheap energy to keep our society running. Because of this, the recent expansion of natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing has been discovered. This new method of gas extraction has some people concern about the safety of the environment and the people around it. While most of the health and environmental concerns surrounding hydraulic fracking are unclear, it is difficult to determine with certainty whether continuing the practice is worth the safety of the population. These issues must be discussed and laws implemented to prevent opposition that may place the fracking production at risk. They are multiple pros and cons for the American regarding the use hydraulic fracking. The main concern that this writer believe both groups of American are there sufficient regulations now in place to ensure safety. Safety should be the key issue everyone need to focus on because it will relate to how it will ultimately affect workers health and the environment. As with any energy production, shale gas must be created in a method that prevents, minimizes and lessen environment destruction, decrease the risk of accidents, and protects public health and safety (Centner, 2013). If effective environmental action is not taken today, the possible consequences from fracking will grow into a more serious problem.
The Pros and Cons of Fracking Essay
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In today's global economy, energy is one of the most crucial and sought after commodities. Who supplies it and how much they supply determines how much influence they have over other countries as well as the global economy. This is why hydraulic fracturing is currently such an important and controversial topic in the United States. Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as "fracking" or hydrofracturing, is the process of using pressurized liquids to fracture rocks and release hydrocarbons such as shale gas, which burns more efficiently than coal. This booming process of energy production provides a much needed economic boost, creating jobs and providing gas energy for Americans. The efficiently burning shale gas reduces carbon…show more content…
This is even more important because so many Americans lost their jobs as oil and gas production, "with the number of employees in oil and gas with the number of employees in oil and gas extraction shrinking by over 50 percent to 118,400 in 2003" (Hassett and Mathur). Americans were losing jobs in gas production starting from the early twenty-first century due to the fact that "easily tapped oil reserves grew scarcer and domestic oil production declined", until improvements in fracking for shale gas created more jobs(Hassett and Mathur). The jobs fracking creates is much needed to boost the sagging American economy, but even more important to the economy is the gas produced. Natural gases are the most important source of energy in the modern world of technology and electricity production, which makes the skyrocketing gas production in the U.S. due to hydraulic fracturing incredibly valuable in terms of global trade and economy. The United States has always been reliant on the Middle East and other European and Asian countries for energy, but is very quickly becoming energy independent. "By 2020, the Energy Information Administration predicts that the USA will become a net exporter of natural gas", reaching energy independence from other countries and starting to export gas to provide revenue and pay off debts (Hassett and Mathur). Even