As the pace of shale gas drilling has accelerated in recent years, so have environmental concerns. Incidents such as a 2007 home explosion in Bainbridge, OH, the 2008 groundwater contamination on Wind River Indian Reservation in Pavilion, WY, and the 2008 chemical poisoning of an emergency room nurse in Durango, CO, have intensified the debate over regulation of fracking.10 As a result, new laws regulating fracking activities have
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that plays a critical role in the demand and supply of energy in the United States. It is considered to be a clean burning transition fuel. Compared to coal and oil, natural gas combustion does not generate as much pollution and is therefore considered an ideal partner for renewable energy resources. Natural gas is extracted from shale formations underground that require horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing – “hydrofracking” or “fracking”. This drilling and extraction method is currently considered a global widespread issue due to the rapid increase in the amount of new gas wells that threatens the quality of water around the source (Entriken, Evans-White, Johnson & Hagenbuch, 2011).
We are currently in the second decade of this twenty-first century, and the United States has discovered a new type of energy. It is affordable, it burns somewhat cleaner than the other fossil fuels, and there’s so much of it that it could possibly last us over one-hundred years. Only a decade earlier, just the smallest sliver of the United States citizens had ever heard of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Presently, it is easily one of the most explosive environmental topics alight. Previously, wells that were built for this type of shale gas extraction have quickly spread through various areas of the country. This expansion, many argue, outpaces the science available to fully understand its potential impacts. Whether or not fracking is allowed to continue spreading without vast harm to the environment is one of the many questions researchers
In 2000, shale beds where the number one source of America’s constant need for gas. Most of that production increase has come about to the growing need of hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking”, which is a process used to release oil or gas from underground formations that are otherwise too hard to mine with other tools. Over the past few years, advances in fracking technology have made huge reserves of natural gas in America economically recoverable. According to the Energy Information Administration, shale gas plays, or fields, in the United States, most notably the Marcellus, in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York, and the Barnett, in Texas, are said to contain enough natural gas to give power to the country for a hundred and ten years. With the everlasting specter of energy independence, some have argued that such efforts to recover natural gas need to be expanded. Activists concerned with fracking’s potential environmental hazards view the new process as a serious threat to our environment. There are many different opinions on wether or not fracking is a safe way to gain our gasoline, and to meet the growing demands of gasoline around the world. The process of fracking creates cracks that come from wells into oil and gas formations by pumping highly pressurized fluids, ceramic beads, sand, and a mixture of chemicals, into the gas formation. As this fluid holds the underground fissures open, oil and gas fly up the well to the surface where they are
Last year alone, oil and gas companies put hundreds of millions of gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluids into the earth. Many of these fluids were found to contain harmful chemicals such as carcinogens- substances that directly cause cancer. This is why hydraulic fracking has been the topic of heated debate over the past few years. This process of drilling for natural gas has become increasingly popular over the past decade, and has in turn produced many questions about the safety of its wells and the chemicals that are used in drilling. Under current regulations, hydraulic fracking is permitted to be conducted at drilling sites that are located very close to residential areas. The chemicals used in the drilling process have been leaking out of wells, and have contaminated drinking water for some communities. In addition, it pollutes the air by putting methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Concerned about the safety of fracking, cities such as Longmont have shown great opposition to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA)’s regulations. In fact, Longmont citizens voted to put a ban on fracking within city limits in 2012. This ban has been met with retaliation from COGA, who sued the city because of the ban. If fracking isn’t allowed to be banned by cities that don’t want it, then the regulations need to change in order to make the practice both prosperous and safe for the community.
Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a mine stimulation technique that is taking the country by storm. It is a multi-billion dollar industry and in some parts of the country there are so many wells clustered together that they can be seen from space. The commodity being mined is natural gas. Natural gas has earned itself many new names depending on who is asked. According to big gas companies like Haiburton, it’s America’s solution to the energy crisis and a fuel for the 21st century. They claim this current period of economic and energy prosperity is due to increased fracking. However, this prosperity does not come without a cost. Many landowners, environmentalists, and scientists claim the process is poisoning the air, ground, water,
Although oil companies uphold the idea that fracking is a cheaper and efficient, fracking damages the local water, air and soil in the surrounding cities. According to the Science of Total Environment, scientists speculate that wells require up to 5 million gallons of fluid per extraction event, which would require tons of chemicals including benzene, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides to unconventionally bring out the shale gas (Werner et al. 2014). The lengthy list of air pollutants, most of which are combustible, suggests that both human health and the environment are at risk and the surrounding water aquifers located near the horizontal wells could also be damaged. The amount of water needed for extraction also demonstrates the strain the process of fracking has on the environment and local water supply. Similarly, the potency of methane is 20 times worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, which is further aggravated by the process of flaring (Weinhold 2012). Thus, flaring and fracking serves not only as a nuisance to the community through the health hazards and water pollution, but can worsen the status of global climate
The shale revolution has provided a new source of natural gas and energy independence for the United States, but it must be carefully regulated to keep our nation’s water supply safe and clean. That’s why I am a firm supporter of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. In Congress, I will diligently work to end the “Halliburton Loophole,” which has dangerously exempted fracking from necessary federal environmental regulation, and I will advance efforts to create stronger regulations by the EPA to ensure that hydraulic fracturing is practiced in a safe and environmentally conscious manner.
The Marcellus Shale formation located in western Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio is projected to supply an equivalent of 45 years of the United States current energy consumption. Worth an estimated five hundred billion, this can translate into cheaper and wider “variety of products such as plastic, agrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals.” It can also relate to an “increase [in] the supply of fertilizer, ensuring the availability of food and reducing…the conversion of forests to agricultural farms” (Sovacool 252). The fracking industry will only increase in size in future years, so much so that reclamation of shale gas is called the “eminent shale gas revolution. British Petroleum [BP], for instance, expects global shale gas
The Federal Surface Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (FSCRA) attempted to shift some of the responsibility for environmental consequences to the private contractors who rely on mining for privatized profit (Menzel 1981 et al. Chan 2017). Notably, the FSCRA did not attempt to mitigate environmental degradation derived from oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Whereas, oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing tend to fall underlies stringent regulations, but NEPA still applies to these processes. The consequences of oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing “include deforestation, ecosystem destruction, chemical contamination of land and water, long-term harm to animal populations (particularly migratory birds and marine mammals)” (O’Rourke 2003, 594). In addition, hydraulic fracturing require an extractive fluid which often entails the usage of chemicals that are “either carcinogenic or associated with numerous health problems affecting the eyes, skin, lungs, intestines, liver, brain, and nervous system” (Kargbo 2010, 5681). For example, in New York it has been confirmed that “formaldehyde, pesticides, acids, and numerous other hazardous materials” have been found in “hydrofracture fluids” (Kargbo 2010, 5681). The extraction of coal, oil, and natural gas degrades the environment and has the most detrimental impacts locally.
Like the BP oil spill, there were major loss of marine life and marine deformities. If the water is dumped improperly, it can have the same effect on aquatic life. Lastly, would be the cause of the unknown. We must put into consideration in the event where drilling is being done and for some unidentified reason an explosion occurs. The result of this can cause an entire town to be destroyed, numerous fatalities and leave thousands homeless. Although one might argue an explosion cannot occur due to the lack of oxygen, we must still think about the natural disasters that can occur beyond one’s control. Despite the negative effect on humans and the environment, shale wins when it comes to being eco-friendly. Shale being a natural gas is “clean” energy source. By burning natural gas, only half of carbon dioxide is emitted when compared to coal and synthetic fuels. Furthermore, in some areas where there has been an oil spurge, some towns have experienced an increased in economic activities. Hotels and restaurants nearby may experience the most activities since it may be closer for some individuals to catch a quick eat or
Global warming is a very disputed issue due to the fact that in every situation, there are two sides to a story. Some believe global warming is not an issue seeing as there have been trends in the past that indicate that the world changes constantly and that it will once again come to its natural order. Like geologist Charles Lyell once stated with his idea of uniformitarianism, that the Earth is shaped by the same processes still in operation today. Also, James Hutton stated that, “The future will resemble the past”, meaning that the events happening today, have already occurred, therefore they will happen once again
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently fined a drilling company after methane gas leaked from a drilling operation and seeped into nearby residential wells (“Marcellus Shale”). This is not a common occurrence; the problem of methane gas migrating into ground water is a very serious problem. You can not drink water, shower or wash clothes with water that has been contaminated with methane. There is documented proof, including video that actually shows water from a kitchen faucet being ignited into flames with a lighter, the water containing enough methane gas to become flammable. Property owners that sold land rights to gas companies are now second guessing their decisions and suffering the dilemma of tainted ground water and well water.
This allegedly prevents the ground from sagging while allowing for its porosity, and the migration of gas to be extracted (Hussein et al, 2013). This technique is responsible for greatly increasing the world’s resources of recoverable natural gas. In the U.S., for example, for the $71 trillion cubic meters of total recoverable reserves, $24 trillion are related to shale gas reserves, according to the International Energy (IEA) (Water Environment Federation, 2012). The change of scenery was such that the U. S. began importing LNG for potential exporters of natural gas. With the realization that it was possible to extract gas from shale formations, natural gas already being figured as a transition fuel to clear energy sources, had reaffirmed this role. However, not everything is a bed of roses, this new opportunity to obtain natural gas has been accompanied by some questions about the negative impacts that hydraulic fracturing may have on the environment. The biggest concerns are the large amount of water used throughout the process, and the possible contamination of groundwater by the gas and the chemicals that are present in water used in the activity (Hussein et al, 2013)
In December 2011, the federal Environmental Protection Agency concluded that fracking operations could be responsible for groundwater pollution.“Today’s methods make gas drilling a filthy business. You know it’s bad when nearby residents can light the water coming out of their tap on fire,” says Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. What’s causing the fire is the methane from the drilling operations. A ProPublica investigation in 2009 revealed methane contamination was widespread in drinking water in areas around fracking operations in Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania. The presence of methane in drinking water in Dimock, Pa., had become the focal point for Josh Fox’s investigative documentary, Gasland, which received an Academy Award nomination in 2011 for Outstanding Documentary; Fox also received an Emmy for non-fiction directing. Fox’s interest in fracking intensified when a natural gas company offered $100,000 for mineral rights on property his family owned in Milanville, in the extreme northeast part of Pennsylvania, about 60 miles east of Dimock.