In his article The Drillers Are Coming Mark Fischetti examines the pros and cons of the natural gas drilling procedure known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. He also discusses the Marcellus formation, a shale deposit that stretches from New York to Tennessee (Fischetti, 2010).
According to the article, the Marcellus formation could potentially provide the United States with enough natural gas for the next 40 years if consumption rates stay at the present rates (Fischetti, 2010). Fischetti discusses the current political pressures to achieve energy dependence from overseas countries and mentions that natural gas could be a cleaner alternative to coal. Natural gas discharges 40 percent less carbon dioxide than its smoky counterpart (Fischetti, 2010). With these findings newer technologies are being developed to increase the amount of gas that can be extracted. These cost effective horizontal drilling procedures are quickly spreading across the country. This fact is evident in Pennsylvania where the number of wells drilled increased from only two in 2005 to 768 in 2009 (Fischetti, 2010).
Fischetti indicates, however, that concerns have been brought to light regarding the negative impact that this relatively new horizontal drilling procedure known as slickwater hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for short, has on the environment and on people’s health. Fracking consists of forcing large amounts of freshwater and chemicals down the wells to fracture rocks and release the natural gas stored within them. Consequently, substantial amounts of tainted water flow back up. The author describes an air-quality study done by Texas’ Commission on Environmental Quality in 2009 in which they found benzene, xylene, and other toxins exceeded the legal limit (Fischetti, 2010). Fischetti, however, makes it known that isolated incidents such as the previously described one do not hold scientific proof that fracking poses enough of a threat for the procedure to be outlawed (Fischetti, 2010).
The safety disagreements regarding fracking have caused legislators to propose tough controls in an attempt to slow down the creation of new fracking sites while a clear answer to problem is found (Fischetti, 2010).
The main concern with fracking relates to the chemicals that are used. Fracking consists of drilling a shale layer that around 3000 to 8000 feet below the surface. The drill bit is the gradually turned to 90 degrees and continues to drill for about a mile. After drilling, a steel pipe is inserted and encased in cement (Fischetti, 2010). The shale is then...