Hydraulic Fracturing also referred to as “fracking” is a technique used to extract natural gas, and has become equal with all things gas drilling. It involves shooting water, sand and a mix of chemicals at high pressure deep into a wellbore to help split the shale rock and release the gas that lies tightly squeezed into the rock. But is fracking an opportunity or danger to our environment?
According to energyshale.org, the Pro-Fracking website claims that, “Hydraulic fracturing is safe and well-regulated by federal and state agencies. Fracking technologies and processes continue to be improved, guided by industry standards developed from experiences in the fracking field and which undergo rigorous review before adoption.”
The pros of fracking are, that there are enough fossil fuels locked in bedrock shale formations under American soil to make the United States energy independent, and a net exporter of oil and gas, in the near future.
By tapping into those energy sources, it would allow the United States to become less dependent, economically and politically, from countries such as Venezuela and the Middle East.
Fracking allows access to alternative sources of fuel, it reduces surface toxicity, lowers energy cost, and provides more jobs.
In 2012, the oil and gas industry in America employed more than 1.2 million people, which further increased due to fracking.
Because fracking can be done within local jurisdictions, it will also decrease a city or country’s dependency on foreign oil. But with oil prices plummeting, fracking can shake the oil and gas industry and the entire economy.
BanFracking.com states, “Each gas well requires an average of 400 tanker trucks to carry water and supplies to and from the site…It takes 1-8 million gallons of water to complete each fracturing job and approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used per fracturing.”
In fracking fluid alone, there are up to 600 chemicals that are used such as lead, uranium, mercury, ethylene glycol, radium, methanol, hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde, and carbon disulfide (CS2).
The Shell Oil Company issued a US Patent #8097230 on January 17, 2012 on the subject of Carbon Disulfide stating, “Carbon Disulfide is known to be a suitable solvent for enhanced oil recovery by miscible flooding. In enhanced oil recovery by miscible flooding, a solvent for oil is introduced into an oil reservoir and driven through the reservoir to increase oil recovery from the reservoir beyond what can be achieved by conventional means.”
According to EPA.gov, the short term effects of carbon disulfide exposure to humans are alarming, the agency states, “Short term exposure to carbon disulfide to humans causes changes in breathing and chest pains. Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, headache, mood changes, lethargy, blurred vision, delirium, and convulsions.”
Sam Bernhardt, 29, Senior Organizer of Food & Water Watch, an organization that stands up to large corporations and advocates for all people to have access to the resources they need through clean water and sustainable energy.
On the topic of fracking, Bernhardt stated that, “Fracking is a danger to our water supply, our most precious resource…” he continued, “it is a danger to the air we breathe and can cause serious health complications, and it is ultimately contributing to climate change.”
The issue is not only the process of hydraulic fracking but that only 30-50 percent of the fracturing fluid is recovered, and the rest of the toxic fluid is left in the ground and unfortunately, it is not biodegradable, causing the chemicals to enter the water system.
This past Monday, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke heavily on the subject of fracking in Binghamton, NY during one of his rallies. Ignited by the crowd, with poise, Sanders made it be known, that New York had officially banned fracking.
Sanders stated, “What you have done is proved to the world that when people stand up and form a grassroots movement of the environmentalists, public health advocates, farmers, working families, and religious leaders, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish…what may have considered unrealistic or pie in the sky just a few years ago has now been achieved in New York because you made it happen and that is how real change always occurs when people stand up and fight back.”
Prior to New York officially banning fracking in its state, Vermont was one of the first states in the nation to ban fracking. And just last year, Maryland imposed a moratorium—a temporary prohibition, on fracking until 2017.
On Jan. 20, 2015, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order banning the practice of hydraulic fracking in Pennsylvania state parks and forests. The order reversed the policy implemented by the former Republican Governor Tom Corbett, where he made it legal for the practice of fracking to be done.
Molly Lichtner, 22, the former President of Eco-Club at BCCC and Conservation and Wildlife major stated, “There is so much progress that is being made in the goal to ban hydraulic fracking as a whole, but there is so much that needs to be done in order to terminate this practice…” She continued, “It is important to contact your state legislator and get involved because in the end it affects all of us.”
If you are interested in getting involved to end fracking in Pennsylvania go to http://www.paagainstfracking.org/ to sign up.