Fracking: A Growing Scientific Controversy

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Fracking: A growing scientific controversy The drive to satisfy the nation's insatiable appetite for energy has driven over 31 states to adopt a process of natural gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing. "Used in nine out of 10 natural gas wells," fracking entails pumping "millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals"¦to break apart the rock and release the gas" (What is hydraulic fracking, 2013, Pro Publica). The chemicals are necessary to transform the water "into a frictionless mass that works its way deep into the earth, prying open tiny cracks that can extend thousands of feet. The particles of sand or silicon wedge inside those cracks, holding the earth open just enough to allow the gas to slip by" (What is hydraulic fracking, 2013, Pro Publica). Cash-strapped states have embraced fracking with a vengeance: it often brings jobs to rural areas with extremely high levels of unemployment. It is true that these "vast deposits of natural gas" are "large enough to supply the country for decades" and allow the United States not to be as dependent upon foreign sources of energy (Gas drilling: The story so far, 2013, Pro Publica). However, "scientists are worried that the chemicals used in fracturing may pose a threat either underground or when waste fluids are handled and sometimes spilled on the surface" (What is hydraulic fracking, 2013, Pro Publica). In 2008, an EPA study stated that the practice posed no danger to drinking water (Kelly 2012). However, since

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