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The Misfortune of Secrets
Imagine a new type of technology that will decrease our unemployment rate, create many years’ worth of natural gas and crude oil in the United States, and reduce domestic imports of crude oil and natural gas, which would then improve national security. There actually is a technology that does such things. It’s called hydraulic fracturing, but it isn’t necessarily new. Hydraulic fracturing has been around since the 1940’s but has really started to boom in the mid-2000’s. it is the process of releasing natural gas from compact rocks, mostly from shale. The process involves injecting millions of gallons of a mixture of water and many chemicals into an underground rock formation in order to open factures, which release trapped gas or crude oil through a pipe to the surface.
Now imagine walking out on your front porch experiencing excruciating pains in your lungs and head, expecting to see your once beautiful green and luscious front yard, but you actually see a field filled with sand and wells everywhere you look; along with that, there is a horrid gassy smell. This is what many Americans will begin to experience if hydraulic fracturing keeps expanding in the United States. Hydraulic fracturing is believed to have had many negative effects on the environment, such as contamination of groundwater, seismic events, and on human health. Although hydraulic fracturing is good for our economy, the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages.
Many people may believe that the employment aspect of hydraulic fracturing is a major reason to keep it around so that we can boost the American economy. According to the article “The Rush to Drill for Natural Gas,” from 2000 to 2008, the number of wells in the state of New York went from 6,845 to 13,687, and it is predicted that an additional 80,000 wells could be drilled within the next decade (Finkel 2). With all these fracturing sites being built, employees need to be hired to do jobs like drive trucks to transport materials, mix the fluid, and supervise the fracturing sites. Even though the statistics do show a huge demand of jobs, gas companies and community officials fail to take into consideration what local community members think about the increasing population because of the new work. The article, “Oil Rigs Bring Camps of Men to the Prairie”, in the New York Times explains that once man camps—temporary dormitory type housing for the male work force—brought in 3,700 men into the quiet little town of Tioga, North Dakota, local community members got a little hostile. Robert Harms, a local resident, expressed, “The industry needs to recognize that they’re guests here. They’re operating in people’s front yards and backyards and they damn well better act that way” (Sulzberger). Harms is not the only person angry about the cluttering of his hometown. In order to reduce the frustration of the people who have been living in these areas for a long time, local community officials should take into account what the community members think about hydraulic fracturing before going overboard on it.
Furthermore, human-induced seismic activities, also known as miniature earthquakes, are believed to be one effect of hydraulic fracturing. Many researchers believe that this unusual activity has to do with the large amount of fluid injected into the ground during the hydraulic fracturing process. Although researchers are not 100% positive that hydraulic fracturing causes earthquakes, there have been some events in Oklahoma that makes them very confident that hydraulic fracturing does indeed cause seismic events. John Daly explains in his article “U.S. Government Confirms Link between Earthquakes and Hydraulic Fracturing” that before hydraulic fracturing came to the state of Oklahoma, there were typically around 50 earthquakes in the state during a year. Two years after hydraulic fracturing started to boom, 1,047 earthquakes were reported during a period of...
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