Hydraulic Fracturing Essay Sample

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Is it safe, or are we just trying to save money, and produce jobs at the expense of the countries safety? This and many more question have been asked about Hydraulic Fracturing with this paper I hope to answer that question and give you some more insight to what is really going on “ fracking”. Not only are there the safety issues but many legal ones as well and state laws vary from state to state alone with having to follow federal laws. One of the issues that are brought up is water, drinking to be specific. Many people are concerned that with the fracturing it will have an effect on the underground water supply, whether or not it is safe to drink and what kind of harm it can cause. There is a lot of concern about how safe it is to inject the chemicals into the ground without any damage to the surrounding environment. Then there is the “flowback”, what to do with it to keep it from getting into drinking water since it can be toxic. Chemical additives are used in the drilling mud, slurries and fluids required for the fracking process.

Each well produces millions of gallons of toxic fluid containing not only the added chemicals, but other naturally occurring radioactive material, liquid hydrocarbons, brine water and heavy metals. Fissures created by the fracking process can also create underground pathways for gases, chemicals and radioactive material. Another scenario for contamination to occur is by faulty design or construction of the cement well casings–something that happened in the BP Gulf blowout disaster. Storage of the waste water is currently under the regulatory jurisdiction of states, many of whom have weak to nonexistent policies protecting the environment. With the use of diesel fuel and other chemicals that are pushed into the ground how is that effecting plant and animal life in the surrounding areas. Many are concerned that with all the chemicals used to frack that it will end up killing of the wildlife and harm the water for animals to drink along will the plant life to give them shelter and food. Methane is a main component of natural gas and is 25 times more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

A recent study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monitoring gas wells in Weld County, Colorado, estimated that 4 percent of the methane produced by these wells is escaping into the atmosphere. NOAA scientists found the Weld County gas wells to be equal to the carbon emissions of 1-3 million cars. A number of other air contaminants are released through the various drilling procedures, including construction and operation of the well site, transport of the materials and equipment, and disposal of the waste. Some of the pollutants released by drilling include: benzene, toluene, xylene and ethyl benzene , particulate matter and dust, ground level ozone, or smog, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and metals contained in diesel fuel combustion—with exposure to these pollutants known to cause short-term illness, cancer, organ damage, nervous system disorders and birth defects or even death . In addition to enhancing our domestic energy supplies, shale development has irrefutable economic benefits.

Hydraulic fracturing has boosted local economies—generating royalty payments to property owners, providing tax revenues to the government and creating much-needed high-paying American jobs. Engineering and surveying, construction, hospitality, equipment manufacturing and environmental permitting are just some of the professions experiencing the positive ripple effects of increased oil and natural gas shale development. Fracking makes it possible to produce oil and natural gas in places where conventional technologies are ineffective. Access to new wells encourages economic growth and provides energy for all Americans. Fracking has been used in more than one million U.S. wells, and has safely produced more than seven billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. With the gas and oil companies not having to ship in from overseas not only will it save money, but time as well. Companies not wasting time waiting for a shipment to come in can make more oil and natural gas to supply the U.S. and help keep prices lower and create jobs here in the United States.

Despite Congress’s power to regulate hydraulic fracturing activities under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, regulation of the technology and of the oil and gas industry in general is largely left to the states. In fact, the oil and gas industry, and in some cases hydraulic fracturing specifically, enjoys exemptions from several major federal environmental statutes, including: the Safe Drinking Water Act; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act; the Clean Water Act; the Clean Air Act; the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; and the National Environmental Policy Act.24Many of the exemptions for the above listed statutes stem from or were strengthened by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The government is saying that the states know there Geology better than the government and the states are doing a good job of regulating Fracking very well so why mess with it right know.

Many officials thing it would take up to much time and resources to have the government regulate hydraulic fracking at this time. French President Francois Hollande had promised to maintain the ban imposed by his predecessor in 2011, even though France had been named among the most promising European countries for shale gas extraction. The French, who rely largely on nuclear energy, fear the environmental costs of hydraulic fracturing are too steep. In addition to France, Bulgaria has banned fracking. Britain has allowed modest experiments, though those have met with public discontent. Industry hopes that Germany, which decided to end its atomic power after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, would be receptive to fracking have also met with disappointment.

As of right know states are doing a good job of keeping drinking water safe along with the environment and as long as that continues I see no reason why it shouldn’t continue. Not only if fracking bringing jobs to this country it is also helping towns and little villages bring in money to help them prosper. My personal opinion is that as long as the oil companies continue to test not only the water, but surrounding areas to make sure that everything is safe why not try to make things better for our country and the people in it. No matter what you do in this world there are risks and there can be some more dangerous than others, as long as we are always trying to improve and better the way we do things then I say what the hell go for it.


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