As our fossil fuel resources continue to dwindle in America, we have been forced to find other ways to support our energy demands.
Rather than invest more money in renewable energy sources, however, many oil and gas companies have decided to pour money into “fracking”.Fracking is a dangerous and wasteful method of extracting natural gas from the ground, by using poisonous chemicals and millions of gallons of freshwater. Just that description alone should tell you how bad it is, but unfortunately, fracking is on the rise right now in America.
With a political administration that supports fracking and a Congress that is more than happy to take money from oil and gas lobbyists, it’s safe to say that fracking poses a bigger threat to our country than it ever has before.Let’s dive into why fracking is so harmful, and why we need to forget about using it as soon as possible, lest we face some serious consequences.How Fracking Works – the Juice is Not worth the SqueezeNow that most of our major natural gas wells are drying up, the corporations that own these wells have been forced to come up with new ways to harvest natural gas. Rather than invest their billions of dollars into sustainable energy sources, they’ve chosen to continue using up our finite fossil fuels for as long as they can.
Fracking is a method used to extract natural gas from underground rock beds that otherwise wouldn’t be able to be tapped. This is done by pumping millions of gallons of fresh water laced with chemicals and sand into the ground, producing all kinds of cracks in the rock. These cracks are held open by the sand, and allow the natural gas trapped within small pockets to be sucked out more easily by a pump.
Once the gas is sucked out, the wastewater used to penetrate the rock is pumped deep back underground where it is left to stay forever. The water is so contaminated with chemicals that it’s unable to treated at a water plant, thus every batch of fresh water used for fracking is forever ruined. You can see how this is a problem by itself. Our freshwater supply is not unlimited and many scientists project worldwide water shortages to occur within the next century or so.The Environmental ImpactThere are many ways in which fracking is terrible for our environment. First off, the amount of energy used in the process of fracking is absolutely insane. It takes an enormous amount of energy to power the wells used for fracking.
It also takes a lot of energy to mine for the sand that’s added to fracking fluid.Because fracking wells dry up quicker than normal natural gas wells, they need to be drilled much more frequently. This restarts the massive energy consuming process over and over again, with no end in sight.There have also been reports of earthquakes in places where we normally don’t see them, due to fracking. Oklahoma has been hit especially hard because the sediment there is particularly vulnerable to being damaged by the storage of fracking chemicals underground.Fracking produces methane, a greenhouse gas that’s very harmful to the atmosphere of our planet.
It is one of the main contributors to global warming. In addition to the natural production of methane from fracking, it’s estimated that 3% of the natural gas extracted from the earth evaporates into the air during the process.Poisoning Our Water Supply”You have a choice. Either you can have more oil, or more clean water. Fracking is not good for the water supply.” ~ Michael Hudson, professor of economics at The University of Missouri Fracking has been around since the 1940’s, but it wasn’t until 2008 that the EPA directly implicated it in contaminating our water supply. Since then, there have been many reports of drinking water being contaminated by these underground pools of fracking fluid. It got so bad, that a critically acclaimed documentary called “Gasland” was made on the topic.
Gasland became hugely popular after it exposed water contamination from fracking in Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, Utah, and other states. Residents from towns in those states reported water so contaminated from fracking fluid that it was completely undrinkable. Many of them had devolved severe health problems from it, and some of the water was so contaminated you could light it on fire as it came out of the tap!Moving ForwardAlthough the consequences of fracking are obvious and provable, there is still enough doubt for lawmakers to allow it to continue. We’ve only been using fracking extensively for the past ten years or so, and proponents of it say that we haven’t had enough time to study its effects on the environment.
Oil and gas companies continue to shovel millions of dollars into the pockets of our government representatives to influence the debate. Not only this, but they’ve also forced many people affected by fracking to sign non-disclosure agreements so that they can’t go public with their complaints. Many thousands of dollars have already been shelled out to victims of fracking in order to keep them quiet, and this trend will continue as support for this dreadful practice fails to die out.Fracking is a short-term solution to a long-term energy problem. If we want to have any chance in the fight against global warming or leave a country with plenty of fresh water for our kids, we’ll need to do whatever it takes to end it as soon as possible.