Problem

Natural gas is the fuel of the future. It will allow the nation to become energy independent and have a cleaner source of fuel. Fracking has been taking a lot of negative press in the past few years with accusations of contaminating water supplies, dumping of waste and possible geological repercussions such as unstable ground and earthquakes, which is completely untrue.

 

Disclaimer

This website is a class assignment for Nature and American Values
at Virginia Tech.  The purpose of the assignment is to help inform us
on key issues facing America. The positions being advocated were
assigned and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the students.

References

Biello, David. “What the Frack? Natural Gas from Subterranean Shale Promises U.S. Energy Independence–With Environmental Costs.” Scientific American. Scientific American, 30 Mar. 2010. Web. 06 Feb. 2012. <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=shale-gas-and-hydraulic-fracturing>.

 

Brand, A. (2012, March 15). A Big Fracking Problem. thelittlerebellion.com. Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://thelittlerebellion.com/index.php/2012/03/a-big-fracking-problem/

 

Deem, Frank. “Benefits from Fracking Outweigh Any Negatives.” Journal-news.net. The Journal, 20 Oct. 2011. Web. 06 Feb. 2012. <http://journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/569446/Benefits-from-fracking-outweigh-any-negatives.html?nav=5061>.

 

Dietz, T., Ostrom, E., & Stern, P. (2003, December 12). The Struggle to Govern the Commons. Science Magazine, 302, 1907-1912.

 

Hardin, G. (1968, December 16). The Tragedy of the Commons. Science Magazine, 162, 1243-1248.

 

Howarth, R. W., Ingraffea, A., & Engelder, T. (2011). Natural gas: Should fracking stop?. Nature, 477(7364), 271-275. doi:10.1038/477271a

 

Lipschutz, R. D. (2004). Civic Politics and Social Power: Environmental Politics “On the Ground”. Global environmental politics: power, perspectives, and practice (p. 132). Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.

Pontius, F. (2009). Hydraulic Fracturing: Is Regulation Needed?. Journal: American Water Works Association, 101(9), 24-32.

 

Ramanujan, K. (2012, March 7). Report exposes fracking’s effects on animals. Cornell Chronicle Online.

KERR, R. A. (2010). Natural Gas From Shale Bursts Onto the Scene. Science, 328(5986), 1624-1626.

 

Shefchik, Claire. “Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations In Development By U.S. Interior Department.” ThirdAge.com. ThirdAge Media, 6 Oct. 2011. Web. 06 Feb. 2012. <http://www.thirdage.com/news/hydraulic-fracturing-regulations-in-development-by-u-s-interior-department_10-06-2011>.

 

Smith, M. J., & Pangsapa, P. (2008). Environment and citizenship: integrating justice, responsibility and civic engagement. London: Zed Books.

 

Snyder, Jim, and Katarzyna Klimasinska. “Obama Pushes Natural-Gas Fracking to Create 600,000 U.S. Jobs.” Bloomberg. Bloomberg, 25 Jan. 2012. Web. 06 Feb. 2012. <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-25/obama-backs-fracking-to-create-600-000-jobs-vows-safe-drilling.html>.

 

EPA JACKSON “Not Aware of Any Proven Case Where the Fracking Process Itself Has Affected Water”. (2011, May 24). U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=23EB85DD-802A-23AD-43F9-DA281B2CD287

 

Hydraulic Fracturing 101. (n.d.). EARTHWORKS . Retrieved May 2, 2012, from http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/hydraulic_fracturing_101

 

National Cancer Institute Press Release on Iodine-131 Doses. (1997, July 28). Institute for Energy and Environmental Research . Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://www.ieer.org/latest/ncipress.html

 

What Is Hydraulic Fracturing? – ProPublica. (n.d.). ProPublica. Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://www.propublica.org/special/hydraulic-fracturing-national

 

“The Truth About Gasland.” Americas Natural Gas Alliance. Americas Natural Gas Alliance, 2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2013. http://www.anga.us/critical-issues/the-truth-about-gasland#.UV2XBZMe2PE

 

Misconceptions

  • Drinking water gets contaminated.  This is not true because the chemicals used to drill through the shale do not leak into the surrounding ground.

  • When all of the gas is extracted the ground will become unstable.  This is not true because the shale formations that hold the gas are very deep in the ground.  Companies also test the formations before extracting because they have to build their operation on the formation and it is a lot of risk to build it on a weak or shallow shale formation

  • Toxic waste used during the drilling process is not disposed of correctly and contaminates the top soil.  This is not true because the contaminants are stored in large holding tanks onsite and are carried away once full to water treatment plants that are approved to treat the used water. Also much of the fluid is recycled in other wells.

  • Fracking needs to be regulated.  Truth is it already is.  There are already limits on how much used contaminants can be stored on site and the wells are required to be sealed with concrete to prevent any seepage into the groundwater.

     

Solution

  • Fracking and natural gas can bridge the gap for supplying energy to the masses; there is a stigma associated with nuclear power that prevents efficient use, and solar and wind are intermittent and are not ready to support the US energy need.

  • The negative press has got to be fought in some way, the public opinion of Fracking is negative because thats all people see on the news. A campaign to show that fracking is safe and cheap energy source would be something for investors to get behind.

  • As it is already heavily regulated, the specific running of the plants needs to be overseen by the states with shale reserves. This will allow for specific solutions for problems specific to the region in which the drilling is taking place. Such as water and drilling near populated areas. PA or NY does not have the same requirements and issues as Utah or Colorado.

  • Fracking right now has an exemption from the Clean Water Act, the companies that do the drilling should be regulated in some way, by releasing the chemicals that they inject into the shale. Yes, some of the chemicals are harmful, but again with an impermeable layer of rock thousands of feet thick, it is not an issue as long as the wells are sealed correctly. To ensure that they are correctly sealed, a state-run agency should be inspecting the wells.

     

Overview

Hydraulic fracturing is a process of obtaining natural gas from deep shale formations. This process has many benefits but if not done correctly is environmentally harmful. Due to strong support of the fracking industry, the government has had trouble assessing the environmental degradation of this process.  This has kept the industry under lax regulations for many years.  Water contamination has been found but has not been linked directly to the industry. There was some instances where fracking was blamed for gas coming out of faucets, and it was hyped up by the media when in reality it was a methane pocket in the well. All the shale is also far below any drinking water wells that are dug. The shale is also beneath an impermeable layer of rock that protects any fluid from the drilling process to seep up into the groundwater.