- Category: Volume 85 (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014)
- Published: 12 March 2014
- Written by IZIAH THOMPSON STAFF WRITER
Political Showdown: Is Fracking an Environmental Issue or Economic Stimulus?
Hydraulic fracturing or “Fracking” is a process where the injection of water along with other chemicals into well boreswhich creates fractures in rock deep into the ground. The fractures can free up natural gas, petroleum, and shale gas, allowing for the creation of well used to extract the resources. Fracking has been most known for:
1) Growing the shale gas industry
2) Its connection to environmental and health concerns. With all the media attention and controversy that Hydraulic Fracturing has aroused the question remains: Is fracking a harmful and dastardly process that we should fight to end, or is it a safe and reliable way to ensure energy independence for the US now and in the future?
From protesters surrounding drill sites, to multiple documentaries, fracking has created quite a stir. But has the opposition, the likes of Matt Damon and Rolling Stone looked at the full picture when it comes to the net value of fracking.
There is no doubt that the extraction of natural gas can have negative consequences for the local environment, but this is a common hazard of any fossil fuel extraction. The most telling place to look for solid evidence is Pennsylvania.
The Marcellus Shale which runs predominantly under most of the state has been seen as a “mecca” for natural gas. The geological formation is estimated to have enough natural gas to fuel American homes for 50 years. As for the communities within Penn, there has been no evidence of chemicals seeping into the drinking water which is drilled hundreds of feet underground. The shale deposit sits thousands of feet underground, nowhere near drinking water.
As for the people of the state, hydraulic fracturing doubled job growth in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, the energy sector provided 103,000 jobs in the state. By 2035 this number is expected to be 387,000 jobs. according to theUS Energy Information Administration.
Politicians and people alike are looking for ways to create job growth and to economic stimulus; the answer may just be shale gas extraction. From a national outlook, cheap and abundant natural gas can not only boost the economy but make gas more affordable for families around the nation. It is estimated that $900 will be put back into the pockets of American families with the surplus of natural gas, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
The natural gas boom also has geopolitical benefits. When we look at how much of international relations is based off of energy dependency, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia lose leverage and international influence with US energy independence, according to the Oxford Energy Forum.
My last point is to look at the alternatives. With greener energy sources such as solar and wind being promising but distant resources, we currently use natural gas, coal, or nuclear energy. The terror of nuclear mishaps is not far off in our memories with the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Not to mention nuclear energy waste presents a major issue of radioactivity.
Then there is coal, a known contributor to global warming. for each unit of energy coal produces, it emits two times the carbon emissions natural gas does. It comes down to an empirical outlook; renewable sources of energy are not technically sound and the complications are great. Right now, we have a way to make energy affordable and create thousands of jobs lifting the US economy along the way. There are impacts on the environment, but shale gas is the safest and most efficient energy source price and quantity wise. Next time you turn on a light, plug in your computer or watch “Gasland” on Netflix, think of where this energy is coming from, and if you could do without it.
IMAGE TAKEN from www.seamepost.com