We see the word “fracking” being thrown around more and more as the industry grows, but what exactly is it? And what are the dangers that it poses?
Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is the process of injecting liquid and materials at high pressure to create small fractures within tight shale formations to stimulate the production and extract energy from an underground well. This sounds harmless enough, right? Wrong!
Fracking is becoming even more popular than ever, as it has allowed the United States to be an exporter of energy. This fracking boom spans more states than ever, including California, North Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Florida, and most states above North Carolina. In total, twenty-one out of the fifty states is now involved in the fracking business. While fracking has undeniable economic benefits from state to state, it poses many risks to our health and environment.
Fracking can contaminate drinking water. Scientists believe that the water mixture that is directed at the shale during the fracking process, called frack fluid, contains carcinogenic chemicals, which could pollute the water around the fracking site. Until recently, neither federal nor state governments required companies to disclose what was in the frack fluid. Because of this, a comprehensive list of chemicals used in frack fluid does not exist. Frack fluid can contaminate water but also surrounding wildlife. There has been documentation that in the places where frack fluid is disposed of, the wildlife and vegetation of that area suffered. There have been cases documented in northern Pennsylvania in which a person could light their tap water on fire because of the contamination in their water, due to fracking. A Duke study examining 60 sites in New York and Pennsylvania found “systematic evidence for methane contamination” in household drinking water. Water wells half a mile from drilling operations were contaminated by methane at 17 times the rate of those farther from gas developments. Although methane in water has not been studied closely as a health hazard, it can seep into houses and build up to explosive levels. People living around areas suitable for fracking companies should not have to sacrifice clean water, especially if they are paying the taxes on the clean water.
If the contamination of drinking water weren’t enough to deter fracking, the process itself uses a lot of water. In the Marcellus Shale region (the biggest in the United States), fracking uses two to ten million gallons of water every time a well is fractured. Even in places in the the midst of draught allow companies to continue fracking. In Texas, drinking water was rationed, meanwhile fracking companies were using about 3.6 million gallons of water to continue fracking.
In addition to water issues, fracking has been linked to earthquakes. In 2011, test fracking in Lancashire was suspended because there were noticeable Earth tremors when an Earthquake of 1.5 and 2.2 magnitude hit. After further research, it was found that the fracking in the area most likely caused these Earthquakes.
Scientists have been arguing with current government administration for years over fracking. Science tells us that fracking can be environmentally detrimental. But now that it has started, how can we stop it? As a whole, this government should be putting more research into clean energy solutions. We, as a people, need to make the current governmental administration hear our plea for green energy. We need to vote for candidates who will support our green message. We need to call our congressmen to let them know that their constituents will not support hazardous fracking in our states. We need to spread the message about why fracking is dangerous while also coming up with safer alternatives to it.
We need to stop fricking fracking!