Deep underneath The United States are natural gas rich shale formations that contain enough fossil fuels to power America for nearly a century. Big oil companies such as Halliburton have started extracting the natural gases that mainly consist of methane, through a process called hydraulic fracturing. Although it seems like natural gas may save the United States from an energy crisis, many opponents to hydraulic fracturing exist because it requires vast amounts of resources, hazardous chemicals, and it has adverse effects on the environment as well. Therefore it is not worth extracting a renewable energy source at the cost of the health of people and the environment. In turn oil companies make the claim that their methods of drilling are safe and that they follow federal regulations to ensure a safe work environment. Oil companies also add that fracturing incidents are rare and that the gains from fracturing greatly outweigh any potential danger. Despite the assurances the oil industry offers, hydraulic fracturing poses too many dangers to the wellbeing of peoples’ lives and natural habitats alike.
What is hydraulic fracturing? Hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) is the process of extracting the natural gas, methane from the porous rock called shale. After using, a drilling rig to create a well that leads down to the shale, drillers pump in fracking fluid; eventually natural gas is released as a result of the fractures created by pressure build up.
Oil corporations claim that fracking has been in use since the 1940’s, but have failed to mention that fracking techniques used today are very different from the ones used 70 years ago. Modern day fracking involves using a mixture of sand, water, and several highly toxic chemicals called fracking fluid. Another difference of modern fracking is that hydraulic fracturing never has occurred in such of a massive scale as is present today. It was not until the turn of the century that that companies like Halliburton developed an economically acceptable form of fracking; soon after the oil industry began to solicit landowners for the right to drill on their lands in search of shale oils. Little did the landowners know that the new fracking techniques were new, underdeveloped; and that even the companies themselves were unfamiliar with the devastating effects fracking would have on the environment.
One of the biggest risks of practicing fracking is potentially contaminating water supplies with fracking fluids. After drillers retrieve fracking fluid, they store it in open-air pits or in sealed tanks. Unfortunately, both the tanks and pits tend to leak toxic fracking fluid into the ground, because of poor chemical management the water supply of residents and natural life living near fracking sites becomes unfit for consumption. Out of the 40,000 gallons of chemicals used in fracking operations drillers only manage to recover a small amount, the rest remains within the wells. “Some studies have...