Hostile attitudes toward hydraulic fracturing popularly referred to as fracking, have been intense, almost unanimous, among environmentalists and green movements. Europe, for instance, has witnessed significant numbers of resistance. Bulgaria and France, despite their largest reserves of natural gas, have stopped all fracking activities while activists have blocked possible drilling areas in the UK and Poland. Conversely, the US has made tremendous progress in fracking, specifically in Pennsylvania. However, it is imperative to establish whether fracking facts support these hostilities.
Fracking involves drilling horizontal well to break apart rocks to release shale gas far below the ground. These rocks contain shale gas that can be extracted to provide energy. Earlier gas extraction practices could not effectively extract shale gas. Since 1990s, however, gas companies in the US have been able to use advanced fracking technologies to extract shale gas (Brantley and Meyendorff 1). Engineers pump high-pressure water straight into “shale layers to create fractures that release the trapped shale gas” (Brantley and Meyendorff 1). Chemicals are also used in fracking to dissolve minerals, drive sand into fractures and kill harmful bacteria.
Extracting natural resources, including shale gas and fossil fuel has negative consequences on the environment. Pros and cons have been major areas of arguments and counterarguments, but empirical evidence should guide future fracking activities and discourses. Many opponents of this natural gas extraction technique have identified possible environmental impacts related to fracking. They argue that dangerous chemicals can seep into drinking water and cause pollution while methane gas may escape into the atmosphere. In addition, greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere also have detrimental impacts on global warming. There have also been reported cases of earthquakes attributed to fracking (Stuart 1). Moreover, gas firms have failed to disclose some of the chemicals they use for fracking, which could be dangerous.
Opponents of fracking should review fracking practices at Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has been able to control potential contamination of drinking water. The water quality has been the same before and after fracking, except in few cases (Brantley and Meyendorff 1). Although small leaks of methane gas have been detected, “fixing the casing system can address these challenges” (Brantley and Meyendorff 1). Moreover, leakages may result from weak fractures, but specific casing designed for such locations could solve the problem. Pennsylvania has also addressed the issue of disposing brine. It has allowed the use of public water treatment plants to dispose brine. Nearly 90 percent of brine is recycled and used for further fracking.
The case of Pennsylvania shows that potential damages from fracking can easily be controlled through stringent regulations and technologies. These practices have led to industry standards that protect the environment and drinking water. Still, the rise in technologies seems to promise green fracking (Kiger 1). New technologies can address the identified “consequences of fracking on the environment” (Kiger 1). Shale gas is clean, can address the current challenges associated with the use of coal to generate energy and reduce greenhouse gases considerably. Still, economic impacts of fracking on job creation, falling energy prices, dependence on internal cheaper energy and expansion of industries cannot be ignored (Schulte 1). In sum, fracking is a great method to extract shale gas. It however requires effective technologies and sound environmental policies to minimize potential damages to the environment. Critics should also base their concerns on empirical evidence to support their claims.
Brantley, Susan and Anna Meyendorff. “The Facts on Fracking.” The New York Times. 2013. Web.
Kiger, Patrick J. “Green Fracking? 5 Technologies for Cleaner Shale Energy.” National Geographic. 2014. Web.
Schulte, Bret. “Can Natural Gas Bring Back U.S. Factory Jobs?” National Geographic. 2014. Web.
Stuart, Hunter. “Ohio Fracking Operation Halted Following Area Earthquakes.” Huffington Post. 2014. Web.