Poe Engl. 1301
4 March 2014
The Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing
Thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface, flows vast reservoirs of one of our planets most sought after commodities. In ancient Babylon there are writings of a dark elixir oozing from the lands surface, even then the people understood how precious this material was. Oil, along with Natural gas, are exceptionally rich sources of energy. A gallon of oil surpasses the output of five kg of coal, ten kg of wood, and over fifty times the amount of energy that fifty humans can produce. The richest oil can actually provide one hundred more times the energy, than the resources used to extract it from the ground. Currently the US is entering one of the largest modern oil booms the world has ever seen. Unfortunately unlike in ancient Babylon, oil today does not simply ooze out of the ground and into our cars. New advances in science and visualization technology have given us a process known as hydraulic fracturing. Also known as horizontal drilling, or fracking, these new techniques have caused a great controversy and sparked a public debate over the potential risks “fracking” could ensue on our environment. Despite the negative pictures environmental lobbyists have painted, hydraulic fracturing is essential for the future of America’s economy. Its main purpose is to create jobs, a stable market, and advance the future of clean energy in the United States. Currently, there has been a focused attention on the negative environmental impacts fracking could potentially carry with it especially in the water supply. There are hundreds of on-going investigations taking place to ensure the protection of the environment as well the health of citizens who currently populate near sites that are using a horizontal drilling method. Most of the negative impacts on the environment, associated with fracking, are poorly understood by the general public. The water supply has been one of the main concerns voiced by lobbyists and various media outlets. Currently the United States government has issued extensive research on the matter through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has focused much of its attention on the sustainability of the water supply and soil surrounding current and former drilling sites. The EPA recently released on their main website a statement confirming the following: The EPA currently is working closely with industry partners to identify locations
and develop research activities for prospective case studies. In prospective case studies, research at the site begins before hydraulic fracturing occurs, and then continues during and after hydraulic fracturing activities. The studies to date have shown no correlation to contaminated water supplies before or after the process of hydraulic fracturing. According to the New York Times, “Shale gas is accessed at depths of thousands of feet while drinking water is extracted from depths of only hundreds of feet. Nowhere in the state have fracking compounds injected at depth been shown to contaminate drinking water.” It is important to understand the process at which the gas is extracted to understand where the areas of risk occur. “Each well contains multiple layers of steel casing and cementing to effectively protect groundwater.” (API 1) This is essential to the protection of our water supply. It is important to understand the access large oil companies have to advanced equipment and the most brilliant minds. Each year billions of dollars are spent on research towards the extraction and containment of natural gas as well how to dampen the carbon footprint left after drilling. Many natural gas operators have chosen to disclose the ingredients of their cocktails to the website FracFocus.org, it is operated by the Groundwater Protection Council. This website includes a public record that can be examined by drill site or well location, individuals can effortlessly view the components used to...
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