Natural gas within shale rock formations is the new energy resource that is on the rise due to the decline of oil reserves in recent years. Though, the benefits of this recent discovery can be economically advantageous for our country’s future. However, we have ignored water and air as a natural resource. These two resources are taken for granted by people all over the world, possibly due to the high abundance of both. Water and our atmosphere are two resources that are essential for life to thrive, and the production of natural gas through hydraulic fracking endangers these resources.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process which involves using heavily powered diesel machinery for drilling deep into the earth’s crust. The goal is to release natural gases found within shale rock formations by injecting these rocks with water to create fissures to release the natural gas trapped within the formations. These fissures are held open by several agents including water, hydrocarbon chemicals, and silica sand. While these fissures are held open, gas is allowed to escape into the wells created by the hydraulic fracturing drill. The wells are surrounded by an additional cement casing which creates a chamber designed to house the released gases and push them up to the well surface above ground. The waste water mix containing hydrocarbons and silica sand are also expelled through these casing chambers along with the natural gas. These gases are collected in the by the wells above ground to be processed and transported to be used for practical uses such as energy or heating. The waste water is also collected and stored in storm drain reservoirs where it is later brought to sewage treatment plants for disposal.
As simple as this process may sound, it does cause many expected consequences as any procedure would on such a large scale. The most common issue with the process essentially lies with the hydrocarbons, or fracking chemicals, used to hold open the underground fissures which allow the gases to escape. These fracking chemicals adversely affect the environment in several forms.
Fracking compounds are made up of methanol, isopropyl alcohol, ethylene glycol and crystalline silica (Spellman 143). As the drilling process creates fissures in the shale rock, unpredictable fissures form throughout the rock. Though the geography of these shale formations are precise, the migration of fracking fluids cannot be predicted and create extensional fractures (Coward, Daltaban, and Johnson 3-4). These extensional fractures give secondary means for fracking compounds to seep into other areas other than the fracking wells underground. These chemicals often find their way into under water aquifers, our water supply sources, directly above the drilling area.
Not all of the compounds are released into underground water aquifers. Many of these chemicals come back to the surface in gaseous form. The emission of natural gas out of the well also includes the emission...