Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the hot button issue of 2013. However, fracking practices have riddled the planes region of the United States for decades. While there are several pros to this controversial process, including a reduced cost of oil in the United States, as well as an increasing ability to distance ourselves from foreign oil, fracking has become a threat to ecosystems, local populations, and climate change. If you haven’t thought a lot about fracking, here are six reasons why it concerns all of us.
Air and Water Pollution
While many environmentally conscious people gnash their teeth over the use of coal in developing countries, it is becoming more widely known that fracking practices result in almost double the greenhouse gas emissions as burning coal. Furthermore, the large pits where recovered water is kept is a threat to local wildlife and the chemicals used to extract the oil have the potential to seep into groundwater sources.
Most wells require between 1 and 8 millions gallons of water in order to efficiently extract oil and only 30-50% of that water is recovered. If you thought the Ogallala Aquifer was already endangered, you haven’t seen anything yet. Further more, the water that is used in fracking is often driven in from all over the country by tanker trucks–an unsustainable practice at best.
Much of the recovered water is highly toxic due to the chemicals used to produce the oil. Experts estimate between 80 and 300 tons of chemicals per well including chemicals like potassium chloride and ethylene glycol. Furthermore, due to the enormous amount of methane released during fracking, residents living in areas where fracking is common have reported being able to light the water in their kitchen sinks on fire.
Full of Hot Air
While fracking promises to eliminate the United States’ dependency on foreign oil it comes at a steep cost. A recent article released by the National Resources Defense Council, revealed that fracking practices in North Dakota alone results in 3 to 8 percent wasted natural gas in the Uited States (predominately methane) due to burnoffs and flares. That is the equal to the emissions of 2.5 million cars.
I feel the Earth move…
The United States Geological Survey has recorded several seismic activities since fracking took off around 2009. Now states like Oklahoma and Alabama (if you know your geography you’ll note that these states are nowhere near a fault line) are experiencing micro quakes strong enough to feel. In fact, the number of earthquakes due to hydraulic fracturing has increased six-fold since the 20th century.
Not just a problem for Matt Damon
While Matt Damon’s timly movie, “Promised Land”, has been criticized for being overzealous and using scare tactics to expose the evils of fracking, wider criticism of fracking is not just a celebrity filled rant on the moral depravity of capitalism. In fact, several national and governmental agencies such as the National Wildlife Federation, National Geological Survey, National Resources Defense Council, and several other NGOs dedicated to environmentalism, have spoken out against the practice. Also, check the covers of National Geographic, Harpers Bizarre, The Huffington Post, and the New York Times (to name a few)…