Fracking Leads to Potential Environmental Dangers
by Madeline Barnes on Monday, September 30th, 2013
Over the past few years, climate change has become a pressing issue, its implications affecting every part of our lives. Recently, a new environmental issue entered the spotlight in many regions in the U.S.: “hydraulic fracturing,” or “fracking.” Hydraulic fracturing is the injection of a pressurized liquid consisting of water, sand, and chemicals into a wellbore; this process allows for the extraction of natural gases and oils. A seemingly harmless act, fracking has created conflict within many U.S. states. According to Energy From Shale, fracking makes it possible to produce oil and natural gas in places where conventional technologies are ineffective. It has unlocked massive new supplies of oil and clean-burning natural gas from dense deposits of shale, boosted local economies, and created the much-needed, high-paying jobs.”
Indeed, those that support fracking often cite its apparent economic benefits. First, states with high levels of natural gas drilling boast some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in North Dakota is at 3.0%, less than half the national average. Further, the boom in the natural gas industry has kept energy prices stable across our land, in turn stimulating the domestic economy. Finally, massive domestic energy production has allowed the U.S. to slowly end its dependence on foreign oil, a strategic move crucial to national security.
However, many are wondering if the drawbacks of fracking outweigh the benefits. According to the website Earth Justice, with fracking comes troubling reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths, industrial disasters, and explosions. After the fracking process has finished, only around 30% of the chemicals injected into the pipes are retrieved, leaving the remaining 70% diffusing from the pipes into the ground and potentially into our supplies of natural, clean drinking water. Gasland, a recent documentary, renowned by many, covered such consequences was a call to action against gas companies taking part in fracking.
Hydraulic fracturing is putting the health of citizens second to obtaining a sustainable energy source as evidenced by myriad cases of illnesses and animal mortality due to water that has been contaminated by the residual chemicals. While oil companies have taken into account these drawbacks, they have done little to change their course and have used the same methods to extract the chemicals from the pipes. Further, high levels of fracking north of New York City are presenting a credible threat to the security of the New York water supply and thus to a lifeline of one on the world’s most important metropolises. Such situations could arise in other cities and expose tens of millions of Americans to a myriad of health problems.
Protecting the environment is imperative for the sustenance of a healthy society. Weighing the availability of energy resources against the safety and well-being of American people is, at the very least, controversial. Until improvements can be made in the fracking process, the environment and the health of the American people should always remain the first priority.
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