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The True Cost Of Fracking Essay

1171 words - 5 pages

Hydraulic fracturing is defined as the act of drilling deep into the ground and injecting water, sand and chemicals under high pressure to break rock formation to recover hydrocarbons.1 This deep drilling (Horizontal drilling) can result in thousands and thousands of feet worth of pipes below the earth’s surface that then inject millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals at high pressure. This pressure is directed at rock shale formations, a fine-grained sedimentary rock that is composed of mud mixed with clay minerals and fragments of other minerals.4 Under this extreme pressure the shale cracks and fractures releasing natural gas that is forced up through the pipes and up into a ...view middle of the document...

Fracking may be a solution to the United States energy issues in the future but its impact on the environment and use of natural resources need to be taken into account. One side of the argument will tell you that hydraulic fracking can take up to 7 million gallons of water to frack a single well. Thirty percent of that water is lost forever and trapped deep in the shale.7 The water that is not trapped forms into wastewater that accumulates through the fracking process. Tens of millions of gallons of water a day are lost from aquifers. The water that is returned through back flow contains many chemicals including heavy metals and naturally occurring radioactive materials.1 The chemicals used to hydraulically fracture wells draw criticism as well, due to the possibility of their inclusion of neurotoxins and carcinogens.1 The gas companies state that in most areas these substances can be injected back into rock 1.5 miles underground. In cases where the rock is too dense to inject these substances, such as the Marcellas region, the wastewater is either recycled or treated in facilities.7 The gas companies argue that the radioactive component is not hazardous to the general public and have shown through tests that radiation levels do not increase.7
Externalities are the costs or benefits that affect a group who did not choose to acquire those costs or benefits.9 The process of hydraulic fracking weighs on both sides of the equation. Despite what the gas companies have to say, there is no way to avoid the harmful costs that fracking imposes on the environment. The amount of water used is massive and results in water pollution. Surface water and ground water aquifer conditions are impacted by the disposal of the cuttings from the drill and through water flowback.1 The gas companies say that they recycle and treat this water, but that takes money, and they spend the least amount that they can.
There are also other costs to fracking. The process of fracking is a source of noise pollution. Drilling takes place near homes and businesses and the amount of noise produced can have a negative impact on the surrounding area.1 Through fracking, erosion, degradation to the land and air pollution (including methanol, formaldehyde and carbon disulfide) can also result.1 Finally, there is the issue of...

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