Hydraulic Fracturing, or Fracking as it is commonly known, is the process by which natural resources are extracted from the earth. That’s the Disney version, however. Fracking, which uses ‘stimulation techniques’ is known to have consequences that make this process controversial around the globe. In this article we’ll cover the basics, current and proposed legislation to modify this practice, as well as to hypothesize about the future of Fracking.

Fracking Illustration

Here’s how Fracking works. Private companies are hired by state governments to remove natural resources such as natural gas, oil (petroleum) and other elements used to make https://www.newtonsearch.net/category/energy/. The process involves fracturing the rock strata by drilling and injecting a pressurized liquid. This technique creates cracks in the deep-rock formations to allow the natural gas, petroleum, and salt water to flow. When the hydraulics are extracted from the wellbore, small grains of hydraulic fracturing agents (usually sand or aluminium oxide) expand to maintain the wellbore, and the fractures the pressurized agents create. Critics of the practice argue that while this action may seal fractures of some size, it is not likely to be effective on larger fractures, thereby creating an ‘escape hatch’ for off-gases, some possibly toxic, to rise to the surface.

Fracking is not new. It has been around and in use globally since the 1940s. Today, it is estimated that over 3 million “frac jobs” have been performed on oil and gas wells with a third attributed to the United States. Governments and Fracking proponents cite that the process is necessary to achieve and to maintain acceptable flow rates in shale gas, tight gas, tight oil (‘tight’ means ‘trapped’), and coal seam gas wells.

Hydraulic Fracturing is highly controversial. Its proponents cite its economic benefits in terms of the cost to acquire natural resources as well as the employment opportunities it creates. Fracking permits easy access to hydrocarbons. Those in favor of Fracking state that hydrocarbons are cheaper fuel alternatives. Harvesting natural gas more economically is an https://www.newtonsearch.net/tag/environmental/ practice as it which burns cleaner and emits half as much carbon dioxide as other fuels, especially coal.

Facking opponents refute those claims and state that gains are eclipsed by the potential environmental impacts. These include possible ground and surface water contamination, noise and air pollution, and the potential to create earthquakes. Much has also been written about Fracking’s contribution to public health hazards and even birth defects.

The state of Pennsylvania is the poster child for Fracking. It is a state with a high unemployment rate, and a lower quality of life than its neighboring states. Back in the 1950s, Pennsylvania embraced Fracking as a means to harvest coal and other subterranean resources. However, over time it has been noted that a drawback to Fracking is methane leakage. To substantiate this fact, a watchdog group, The https://www.edf.org/ (EDF), has recently announced a satellite mission to further locate and measure methane emissions. In fact, during extensive testing and analysis the EDF recently reported that the methane leakage rate in Pennsylvania was found to be well over the reported figures issued by the private Fracking company.

There are other environmental considerations as well. Previously dormant or unknown faults in the earth have shown increased and measurable seismic activity following hydraulic fracturing. It is believed that these faults were caused by the deep-injection disposal of a Fracking byproduct.

This activity has placed hydraulic fracturing is under international scrutiny. The practice is currently restricted in some countries, and has been banned in others. The European Union is seeking legislation to control hydraulic fracturing. In the U.S., particularly in Pennsylvania and its surrounding states, Fracking is a hot campaign item.

To Frack, or not to Frack is a question appearing in more election booths across the United States. Is it acceptable to pay more for fuel or to explore ways to make Fracking a safer future option to heat our homes and run our factories? Let’s not forget that Fracking brings well-paying jobs to many households. Fracking is also an economically sound practice and lowers energy costs. A recent study by the Brookings Institute discovered that households in states where Fracking is legal, gained $200 annually just from lower gas prices.

Other polls indicate that most Americans have little or no idea what Fracking is. And until any long-term health issues are concretely traced to Fracking it may well continue in some states, albeit under tighter regulations. As it becomes more difficult to harvest the natural resources located in our earth’s substrata, other means of energy need to be explored- solar, for example.

The future of Fracking is not clear, but one aspect is: the need for tighter regulations and more controls in place to ensure safer outcomes, not just in our present day, but for the health and wellbeing of future generations..

ILLUSTRATION CREDIT: CREATIVE COMMONS Von US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Washington, DC – “The Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle”, AUTHOR: Gemeinfrei