Sunday, September 14, 2014

Environmental risks connected with fracking

Fracking or to be more precise hydraulic fracturing is just another example in constant fight between economy and ecology, and yet again it looks like ecology will come up short sleeves because of serious money involved in fracking business.

The fracking technology has developed significantly in the last couple of years and now thanks to this rapid development this business has potential value of trillions of dollars since it makes previously unreachable oil and natural gas reachable.

Why is fracking problem for our environment? Basically, process that involves blasting huge amounts of water, sand and chemicals deep into underground rock formations is certain to be connected with several major environmental risks.

One of the most talked about environmental risks connected with fracking is the large consumption of water, which is thing to worry, especially considering the latest droughts in United States. Fracking has larger water requirements compared to conventional gas drilling, though smaller than those of coal and nuclear power plants. There is also the fear of contaminating drinking water supplies with pollutants (failures in the steel and cement casings of wells nearer to the surface and the disposal of wastewater can lead to contaminated drinking water).

Most fracking wastewater in the United States is injected deep underground. This can lead to several major environmental risks and not just the contamination of drinking water, for instance it can cause earthquakes and unwanted seismic activity.

Why not use solar and wind energy instead of this natural gas found in shale rocks? The natural gas found in these rocks is abundant and cheap which makes it hard for renewable energy to compete against.

Fracturing wells can lead to significant release in volatile organic compounds and air pollutants which is not only harmful for our environment but also for our health.

This issue requires new comprehensive studies that would compare the economic benefits with environmental risks. If the risks are too great then even the cheap natural gas shouldn't come up as the winner but as always it is very difficult to emerge victorious against the most powerful industry in the world.

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