The Split Personality of Hydraulic Fracturing Essay Example
The Split Personality of Hydraulic Fracturing Essay Example

The Split Personality of Hydraulic Fracturing Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 2 (421 words)
  • Published: October 11, 2017
  • Type: Essay
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Both experts and the general public agree that there is a need to replace current energy sources in the United States. The use of coal and oil, which are imported from other countries, has detrimental effects on the environment. Nuclear power is also controversial due to the risks associated with meltdowns and the lack of long-term solutions for nuclear waste storage.

However, the energy industry proposes that horizontal boring and hydraulic fracturing can help address these issues. This technology allows access to cleaner natural gas reserves beneath our borders compared to other fossil fuels. Initially viewed as a temporary solution until cleaner energy options became available, recent scrutiny has raised concerns about the actual impact of hydraulic fracturing.

Therefore, it is crucial to consider economic and security benefits while addressing safety and environmental concerns at a federal level through sensible regulation


s for fracking. Such an approach promotes advancements in the industry without discouraging investment in natural gas resources known for their lower carbon content and absence of heavy metals.

Initially, there was limited availability of extractable natural gas; however, shale formations in the United States hold vast reserves of this resource. Additionally, Marsa formations have significant deposits of shallow natural gas sedimentation.Traditional perpendicular boring methods are not cost-effective because they cannot extract enough profitable gas from one well. The introduction of horizontal drilling technology revolutionized the extraction of natural gas, which was previously deemed too costly due to the need for numerous wells. By using a inspired by offshore oil rigs, shallow gas deposits up to a mile away from the well could be accessed. Collaboration between the government and private sector led to th

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

development of extraction techniques for land sedimentation. Mitchell Energy conducted successful experiments with horizontal drilling on Barnett Shale in Texas, replicated by others along Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas. This breakthrough made 60 trillion cubic feet of natural gas accessible - equivalent to a century's worth of energy at current consumption levels. The sudden availability of this clean energy source had immense potential and garnered praise from various stakeholders.

However, it is important to address concerns regarding the hydraulic fracturing process involved in obtaining natural gas through horizontal boring. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process that involves injecting large amounts of water, sand, and chemicals into drill sites at high speeds. This technique is used to break open the rock and release natural gas. The captured gas can then be utilized in various energy production infrastructures. After extraction, the well is filled to prevent any instability.

foreign oil imports which contribute to the U.S. trade deficit. Geopolitical turmoil in oil-producing regions like the Persian Gulf leaves foreign oil sources vulnerable, affecting U.S. foreign policy decisions on human rights violations and democracy undermining practices. Those advocating for "energy independence" argue that utilizing our abundant natural gas resources can address economic and environmental concerns simultaneously.They argue that increasing the extraction and production of natural gas could result in an economic boom in the US, potentially boosting GDP by up to 3% (equivalent to $126.5 billion) and creating one million new manufacturing jobs by 2025. Some analysts even claim that the overall employment generated directly and indirectly from this boom has already exceeded 140,000 jobs. On a smaller scale, landowners benefit from leasing their property to energy companies for drilling purposes, with some earning rentals as high as $10,000 in areas like the Marcellus Shale sedimentation in New York and Pennsylvania.

However, critics of hydraulic fracturing voice concerns regarding infrastructure and long-term health issues. Despite these concerns, the tangible short-term economic benefits tend to outweigh them when it comes to public perception. The positive impact of hydraulic fracturing on the economy is widely recognized due to its geopolitical advantages that contribute to national security. The importance of extracting shale gas for achieving energy independence is acknowledged by opponents as well who seldom dispute these advantages. This was evident during our recent election where "energy independence" was used as a means to ensure national security.

Nevertheless, the text implies that attaining true energy independence remains challenging and uncertain.Although hydraulic fracking has been acknowledged as a major contributor to this endeavor, our heavy dependence on fossil fuels would

still impede complete autonomy, even if we were to utilize all domestic natural gas resources. The initial endorsement of natural gas by environmental organizations was flawed and remains inaccurate today. While data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts a decrease in oil imports, a 16% reduction will not significantly aid in achieving meaningful freedom from foreign oil. Merely increasing the extraction of natural gas and developing new energy production models based on it will not address the underlying problems; instead, it merely diminishes overall supply. The widely held concept of "energy independence" suffers from two fundamental flaws: firstly, under current circumstances, the United States actually exported more crude oil products than it imported last year, suggesting that independence is not currently prioritized (Bigham 7). Furthermore, if there is an excess of a new energy source, our free market system will naturally sell the surplus and rely on outsourcing rather than attaining our supposed independence. Unless there is significant policy reform, our energy will be utilized to boost industry profits rather than enhance our liberty. Additionally, the claim that shale natural gas can provide enough energy for 100 years relies on a model that assumes no increase in current consumption levels.Although it may serve as a useful benchmark for understanding the available volume of natural gas, this does not accurately represent future consumption in the United States. However, despite potential economic or political benefits, hydraulic fracking has raised concerns among activists and certain communities regarding the environment and public health. The main concern revolves around groundwater contamination with methane during the extraction process of natural gas. This concern gained traction after the release of Gasland,

a documentary that showcased residents igniting their tap water due to high levels of methane gas.

The natural gas industry argues that their fracking process is safe and claims that methane cannot travel through hundreds or thousands of feet of rock between their wells and aquifers. They argue that either the groundwater was already contaminated before hydraulic fracking or these incidents were somehow staged. Proponents often cite a 2004 EPA study which found no connection between drilling activity and contaminated water.

However, this position has been reevaluated as a preliminary report from the same agency suggests that fracking likely caused drinking water contamination in Pavilion, Wyoming. Additionally, Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection discovered that contaminated water in two townships resulted from faulty concrete well casings, leading to a $500,000 settlement for the state and installation of water treatment systems.While it is not definitively proven that fracking always causes water contamination or pollution, these examples show the possibility and emphasize the importance of examining claims of complete safety for nearby residents by the industry. The EPA is currently conducting a comprehensive study on this matter with results expected in 2014.
Some people are more concerned about methane released during the extraction process than potential groundwater contamination as it undermines alleged environmental benefits. Methane has a significantly greater warming impact than carbon dioxide, approximately 105 times more per pound. Even small amounts of methane emissions can have a substantial effect on climate change.
There is ongoing disagreement regarding the amount of methane leaked into the atmosphere during fracking. A study conducted by Robert Howarth at Cornell University revealed that the methane leak rate ranges between 4 and 5.6 percent. Despite industry-sponsored

studies attempting to discredit Howarth's findings, recent reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration support his numbers as reasonable.
However, determining the true extent of this issue remains challenging due to undocumented methane release at drilling sites. It is unfortunate that if methane release surpasses coal or oil in terms of carbon footprint, it will undermine the alternative pursued by conservationists.The drilling process generates wastewater, which adds to the complexity of the situation. Each well uses up to 10 million gallons of water, which then requires extraction and treatment after being injected into the well. This recovered water contains harmful elements due to the unique chemical mixture used in fracking. The presence of radioactive elements trapped within rocks can have unknown consequences on water molecules. Additionally, since many rock beds were once ocean floors, high concentrations of salt in the water alone could be deadly for freshwater animals.

Treating this wastewater is a challenge for most municipal governments. Pennsylvania has regulations for handling toxic by-products of fracking in dedicated facilities, but many other states lack a comprehensive system. Noise and visual pollution may not seem significant issues, but they still cause problems for communities. According to Fracking With Care (Marsa and Williamson), drillers can set up rigs near property lines, exposing residents to constant noise and unpleasant odors from drilling and chemical-laden water.

Some companies offer compensation for residents to go on vacation during drilling activities, but this does not address the desolation caused by drilling activities on landscapes. Texas now has over 14,000 wells that have transformed numerous areas into industrial wastelands since Mitchell Energy first drilled in the Bartlett Shale region.These negative consequences associated with

hydraulic fracking have led many people to believe that federal regulation is necessary. It is important to note, however, that the federal government already enforces regulations safeguarding water, air quality, public health, and other environmental aspects. Unfortunately, the natural gas and fracking industries enjoy exemptions from significant federal laws such as the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Toxic Release Inventory. This exemption allows companies to keep their fracking mixture chemicals undisclosed. Drillers argue that customized guidelines are necessary for each fracking site due to varying strata and composition since federal regulations do not consider these differences.

Pennsylvania's regulation is often cited as a balanced example satisfying both the energy industry and citizens. However, what works in Pennsylvania may not be suitable for other states like West Virginia or Colorado due to geological variations. State and federal regulators should treat each site as unique while establishing appropriate guidelines. Some states lack the financial resources or political will to develop their own regulations for the natural gas industry, resulting in overwhelmed state regulators. Addressing the impacts of hydraulic fracturing is a significant concern for provincesMany provinces do not have enough resources or environmental staff to repair transit paths damaged by industry equipment. These provinces would benefit from federal regulations on natural gas extraction and transit, with enforcement at the federal level. Another option is to hold companies accountable under existing federal environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act, which could lead to improvements in their practices. The issue of regulation surrounding hydraulic fracking goes beyond just scientific aspects, and there are currently many unanswered questions about what legislation should include. A

comprehensive study is currently underway and expected to provide initial results next year.

Resistance to regulation often stems from concerns about political bias within the EPA, particularly during President Obama's administration, as well as fears that regulations will intentionally harm the industry. However, some people view the EPA as a responsible organization and believe that studying and eventually regulating fracking is justified.

It's important to note that no single survey can address all questions related to hydraulic fracking. Despite this fact, the United States faces a new technology with uncertain benefits and potential negative effects on a large scale. While there are still unresolved health and environmental concerns associated with hydraulic fracking, it remains difficult to determine if continuing this practice is worthwhile in measurable terms.Despite the well-established economic impacts and drawbacks of traditional fossil fuel energy production, these practices are still being used. However, they are ultimately unsustainable in the long term. While wind and solar power offer promise for the future, they currently do not meet the country's energy demands. Nevertheless, natural gas as an energy source has notable advantages that cannot be overlooked. It is crucial to gather relevant information and implement federal regulations to address safety and environmental concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking). These regulations should not impede progress but rather promote further advancements in the industry to mitigate fracking's negative impacts.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds