Fracking is the process of extracting natural gas and oil from rock that lies deep within the earth. Over the past few years, advances in fracking technology have made tremendous reserves of natural gas in the United States economically recoverable for the first time. Fracking now provides nearly 25% of America’s natural gas supply. The process of fracking pumps highly-pressurized fluid- water, sand, ceramic beads, and a mixture of chemicals- into the oil or gas formation. As this fluid holds the underground cracks open, oil and gas flow up the well to the surface where they can be recovered. Water makes up the vast majority of fracking fluid, but there are some chemicals used as well. Some of the fracking fluid remains underground, which causes concern that it can potentially contaminate groundwater in the future because of the chemicals in it, but much of it is brought back to the surface as wastewater.
There are an overwhelming amount of articles out there on the internet to support the theory that fracking is very dangerous and needs to be completely stopped. You’re only going to find a few that say otherwise. So, obviously that means that fracking IS bad and SHOULD be stopped. Well, not quite.
The most highly criticized part of fracking is the highly-hazardous chemical methane that it is said to release copious amounts of. It can be very dangerous for too much methane to be leaked out, and we didn’t know the exact amounts until a new study was published in 2013 by the University of Texas. They took detailed measurements from select wells around the country and found that leaks from shale-gas fracking appear to be much lower than the EPA predicted.
Ohio State and other universities conducted extensive research to prove if fracking really does pollute groundwater. They examined 130 wells and found that, when properly conducted, no groundwater or aquifer pollution resulted from fracking itself. Among the wells studied, 8 were found to have faulty well construction or cementing was to blame for the seepage of gases into groundwater, which are fixable issues.
Plus, the truth about methane is that natural methane is released in the air all the time, and in large amounts at that. Cows farting and burping contributes, along with thousands of hot springs including Yellowstone National Park. The release of methane from the ocean floor is also a pervasive feature of the natural environment. In comparison with these widespread and perennial sources of methane contamination, the amount of gas released by faulty oil and gas wells is extremely small.
One more thing: yes, fracking uses TONS of water, which of course is a precious resource, but they are making a slow shift to recycling that water. According to IndeOnline, Shawn Bennett, senior vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, stated that efficient recycling depends on cost and having enough wastewater to frack the next well.
All this just covers some of the environmental concerns. Fracking will most likely be controversial for years to come, but the truth is that it may not be as detrimental as you originally thought it was. If we didn’t frack, there would be a lot more problems than we think.