Hydraulic fracturing has been the subject of much heated debates lately. The process has been the subject of many a political campaign with the two camps digging in for the fight to be either pro or con when it comes to the practice.
A little background is in order. Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking is the process of getting natural gas out of the earth. Wells are built and fluid is pumped into the earth to cause the natural gas to flow up a pipe. The process utilizes chemicals that are largely protected as a “trade secret” but are known as carcinogens. This process is also used for drilling for oil as well. It has been in practice for a long time but until recently has not really had much of an impact in the news.
The problem with fracking is that the wells that are used to pump the fluids into the earth can fail at a rate of up to 5% which may seem like a relatively low number but not when you consider the number of wells that it takes to Frack the earth.
On average a state that allows fracking (and many of them do not) can have up to 100,000 wells or more through out the state with a failure rate of 5% you are looking at 5,000 of those wells failing and leaching chemicals into the earth that can effect ground water.
Of course the above is one of the con’s but there are good reasons why fracking should be allowed as well. Fracking is a heated subject for most legislators. It is also a heated subject at many community town halls.
Either you love the idea or you hate it. There are very few people that are faced with the potential of Hydraulic Fracturing that are on the fence about the matter. It is a passionate matter for most people that will be effected by the process whether they are passionately positive or they are passionately negative.
Both sides seem to have some very valid points when it comes to hydraulic fracturing pros and cons.
1. It is always nice to start with the positives and there are positives when it comes to hydraulic fracturing. The most obvious pro is that natural gas is a better energy source than oil. It is cheaper for one and it frees us from foreign reliance for energy.
2. The cost is lower which helps the overall economy in general. The less you have to pay for fuel the more you can spend on other things like groceries or clothing. Keeping costs low is a absolute pro of hydraulic fracturing.
3. Natural gas also burns “cleaner” than other fossil fuels so this cuts down on emissions from pollution which of course is always a good thing. It releases far less carbon into the atmosphere that can help reduce the effect of green house gases.
4. Natural gas is considered a “bridge fuel” that can help us to break away from international dependency on oil AND there is enough of it located in the shale bedrock so that it buys us time while other options like wind and solar power is perfected. In addition to there being enough natural gas for our countries consumption we can also have enough to sell to other countries which of course would be simply amazing for the economy.
5. There is also the employment factor. Drilling using the hydraulic fracturing method for both natural gas and oil will create jobs in depressed local economies. The gas and oil companies can easily hire hundreds of employees in local areas to help with the processing of the fuels. The positions can range from simple labor positions to high level executive positions.
6. Of course the industry that brings jobs to local areas that offers higher wages than most other industries is a good industry in many people’s eyes. This is a pro.
1. Unfortunately for all the pros that hydraulic fracturing offers a community there are plenty of cons as well. The list of cons includes, pollution from the fracking process that can contaminate ground water. The loss of property. The effect that the fracking has on people’s property and the use of undisclosed chemicals in the process.
2. As mentioned earlier one of the biggest problems with fracking is that the wells fail. The wells fail because of shoddy workmanship, poor materials and human error. When the wells fail the “mystery” chemicals leach out.
3. According to a recent documentary that recorded the effects that fracking has on communities when wells fail some pretty awful things can happen like losing your ability to have fresh well water. There are reports of mystery illnesses that can not be explained in ares where hydraulic fracturing took place.
4. The illnesses range from bloody noses (that are unexplained) to large numbers of cases of cancer reported. The water supply can become non potable from the chemicals leeching into the water supply. This of course also effects the land as well.
5. In some places where the fracking took place the land is desolate and can not be farmed. Livestock can not be sustained because nothing will grow on the land for the livestock to graze on.
6. The process is shrouded in secrets because of the corporate veil that allows gas and oil companies the right to protect trade secrets from their competitors. These trade secrets regarding the chemicals that are being used in the process can only be released in many states by a trip to the supreme court. Filing requests about which chemicals are present in the process is a lengthy process that does not always result in getting the information. Not knowing what your family is being exposed to is a definite con.
7. Of course many people have also noted that the pro of more jobs in the area is also actually a con. Many times the oil and gas companies bring their own employees in for the work and no one or only a hand full of people are hired from the local area.
8. The cons also include the loss of property. The fact is if your neighbor decides to lease their property to the gas and oil company for frackign and you oppose it, you really do not have much of a choice. While the drilling will not occur on your land per se you are still very much at risk of exposure to the chemicals and the process as is your land. The shale that is being drilled into does not have those imaginary boundaries that are implemented when you buy property. What happens to the shale bedrock at your neighbors property is happening to the bedrock on your property.
9. Back to the water issue. The con that effects the fresh water supply is NOT only relegated to potential spills from the chemicals that can pollute the water but the amount of fresh water that it takes to drill. In some states this fresh water supply comes from local streams and rivers which some opponents say will quickly deplete the rivers and streams (it can take up to 35 million gallons of fresh water PER DAY per well).
10. In cases where the water is brought in and not taken from local water supplies it is brought in by large trucks that can wreak havoc on rural roadways (where most fracking is done). There are other lesser cons but cons nonetheless like light pollution to bother nearby homes from the 24 hour a day process AND noise pollution as well from the constant chugging of the well.
The cons do seem to outweigh the pros when it comes to fracking.