Section I – Critical Analysis
The United States is facing an energy crisis. Dependence on foreign oil has led to geopolitical conflict, and global fossil fuel consumption is damaging the environment at an alarming rate. Add to this an exploding world population, and it is clear that the US needs to find an alternative source of energy.
Can the natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Formation, extracted through fracking, be the solution to the United States’ energy problem?
The purpose of this analysis is to examine the process of extracting natural gas in shale deposits—Horizontal High Volume Slickwater Hydraulic Fracturing, or “Fracking”—and determine the long-term viability of this process.
The Marcellus Formation is a region of marine sedimentary rock that stretches through Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey, and into parts of Canada. •
Fracking is a process by which millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are injected at high pressure down and across into horizontally drilled wells. The pressurized mixture causes the shale to crack, releasing methane gas. •
Scientists believe that there is enough natural gas in the Marcellus Formation to meet the United States’ energy needs for the next 14 years. •
Economic data from sites in Pennsylvania suggests that fracking effectively creates jobs and benefits local economies. •
Scientists at Cornell University published a study which concluded that fracking was roughly twice as damaging to the environment as coal.
The major assumption surrounding fracking is that a substantial amount of the gas in the Marcellus Formation can be extracted. The reality is, recovery rates vary widely by well. •
There is a great amount of academic research done on the subject of fracking. A major assumption to this research is that it is unbiased. Educational institutions are believed to be impartial, but that is not always the case. In particular, many believe that Penn State is biased toward fracking because much of their research and grant funding comes from the oil and gas industry.
If the US solves its energy crisis, the decrease in dependence on foreign oil could lead to greater geopolitical stability. •
A viable energy discovery of this magnitude could be a strong catalyst to create jobs and kick start the US economy. •
If environmental concerns are not taken into consideration, this energy discovery could lead to increased environmental damage, and health problems for American citizens.
Important concepts include:
Economic Realities versus Political Motivations
Genuine Environmental Concerns versus Political Activism •
Conflicts of Interest
Health and Safety
Balancing Economic Benefits with Environmental Realities
Point of View
I believe business’s #1 concern is making money – that’s what they want to do. •
I believe business will try to get around environmental concerns by lining the pockets of regulators, researchers, or anyone else. •
I believe fracking could be a useful tool to help solve America’s energy woes. •
I believe it is foolish to completely abandon fracking because of environmental concerns. But I also believe that environmental concerns need to be taken seriously.
Support fracking, but strongly regulate it. Assign a task force to draft strict standards of practice for fracking, and hold companies accountable for the impact their operations have on the environment.
Section 2 – Fracking Piece (596 Words)
Fracking: The Silver Bullet to America’s Energy Woes?
Mount Pleasant is a modest borough 45 miles southeast of Pittsburg, PA. Historically, this small town of just over 5000 was home to a glass- and coke-making industry. But more recently, Mount Pleasant has become the center of a national controversy surrounding a new technology: fracking. ,
Fracking—or Horizontal High...
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