In recent years there has been great concern over the growing demand for energy, and the lack of non-renewable energy resources to meet the demand in the future. In addition, the question of “sustainability”—the ability to balance social, economic, and environmental needs in energy production to meet both current and long-term requirements—has come to the fore. It is clear that America must expand energy production quickly, and that we must develop renewable, sustainable energy sources to meet long-term demand and protect our future. There are many proposed solutions, such as wind and solar power. But the technology for these resources is not yet fully developed, making them, at best, low-output alternatives. Because renewable sources are not yet fully developed, there are many who claim that a “bridge fuel” is needed to meet the world’s requirements while more sustainable energy sources are developed.
One proposed option is shale gas produced through a process called hydraulic fracturing,
or “fracking.” But this energy source is highly polarizing, with strong advocates and detractors.
While there are many who believe hydraulic fracturing should not be used in the quest for natural
resources, the process has a relatively low impact on the environment, and the shale gas that it
produces has the potential to change the energy landscape for the better. Contrary to what
environmental activists say, hydraulic fracturing is an inherently safe process that is highly
effective at producing the fuel the US needs to meet our growing energy demands. In addition,
the process has the potential to benefit national and local economies for many years to come by
enabling the US to become the leading producer and exporter of natural gas.
In this paper, I will describe the history and process of hydraulic fracturing. I will then
consider arguments against the use of the extraction technique. These arguments include
environmental concerns and doubts as to whether hydraulic fracturing is economically
sustainable. By first addressing the arguments against hydraulic fracturing, I will be able to
effectively argue for its continued use and expansion in its current form. Finally, I will support
this argument by addressing the need for a clean fuel in the US to bridge the gap between non-
renewables and renewable energy in the future.
The use of hydraulic fracturing dates back to 1947, when Stanolind Oil conducted an
experimental fracturing in Kansas. Although this experiment was relatively small compared to
the processes used today, it served as a catalyst for advances in hydraulic fracturing. Just two
years after the first test of hydraulic fracturing, Halliburton was granted a patent for the new
“Hydrafrac” process. In each gas well that was treated with the new fracturing process,
production increased by 75 percent. This type of breakthrough attracted many followers, and
soon the process was utilized on...