Hydraulic Fracturing

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GEB6445 – SOCIAL, ETHICAL, & LEGAL SYSTEMS Hydraulic Fracturing The topic of hydraulic fracturing has been a source of debate in recent years. Often referred to as “fracking,” this controversial process involves injecting vast amounts of water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground at high pressure to crack the shale and release the natural gas trapped within. Critics fear the process endangers the public water supply because well drilling goes through the water table which exposes it to both the gas itself and the chemicals used to free it. Proponents refute many of these claims and discredit environmental studies by pointing out seemingly valid errors in their execution. They also point out key economic, environmental, and…show more content…
Benzene has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen and is due to the way wastewater is disposed (Kelly, 2012). These claims have gone largely uncontested from the industry and the EPA recently introduced new federal standards which went into place in April of 2012, capping emissions from drill sites. This is the first federal effort to address air pollution associated with the natural gas drilling industry (Broder, 2012). This study and subsequent regulations beg the question; “Is the air pollution created through the release of greenhouse gases in the hydrofracking process worse than that of the coal we’re burning to produce electricity?” Based on current research, findings are unclear and often conflicting (Ju, 2012). Until more extensive - and perhaps more importantly - conclusive research is conducted, there will not be an actionable answer. Trading one form of air pollution for another with the added risk of endangering the water supply comes off as greedy and irresponsible behavior. In hindsight, considering the precious, irreplaceable resource being gambled with it would stand to reason that extensive research on potential pitfalls would be done prior to diving head first into a booming industry allowed in large part to regulate itself and make its own rules. Many other environmental studies have been done on
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