Can environmentalists stop fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in Pennsylvania – or anywhere?
Hydraulic fracturing – “fracking,” for short – is a process used to extract natural oil and gas from solid shale formations deep within the earth.
The process involves blasting a highly-pressurized mixture of water, sand, and a “secret recipe” of chemicals deep into the horizontal shale core in order to break apart the shale and release the gas.
Fracking is a relatively new technology, and it has created a virtual boom in shale oil drilling across the United States. Pennsylvania is one such state that has been affected by the fracking boom, and with some disastrous results. Fracking is getting quite the bad reputation lately, and environmentalists are up-in-arms over what they feel is an immediate danger not only to the people of Pennsylvania, but to the country and, ultimately, the world.
But do environmentalists really have a leg to stand on?
Just how dangerous is fracking?
Here are the facts:
Waste water from fracking and the disposal of
In most states hit by the fracking boom, there are state ordinances that require that waste water from the fracking process to be shot into disposal shafts several thousand feet deep into the earth.
However, in Pennsylvania there is no such ordinance. In Pennsylvania, fracking waste water is minimally treated for toxic substances, then deposited back into main drinking water sources like rivers and streams. As fracking is a relatively new industry, industry regulations are still being debated and waste water disposal is still a state issue. Environmentalists could easily argue that chemical waste dumping in clean water sources is not environmentally friendly, but in the world of bureaucracy, they’d have to prove the level of contamination and the ineffectiveness, irrelevancy, and/or unreliability of water treatment plants.
The corrosive solution used in the fracking process is a trade secret
…..but, in the hopes of softening the controversy, industry giants are coming forward to reveal just what is in the mystery fluid: methanol, methane, hydrochloric acid and acetic acid.
These are all toxic chemicals that present potential harm if not appropriately handled.
Too many fracking accidents.
One of the reasons Pennsylvania has gotten so much attention in fracking news is because of the unfortunate accidents that have occurred in the state.
In 2009, major contamination of a water aquifer in Dimock resulted in a brown, methane-infused water supply that made inhabitants ill. In April of 2011, thousands of gallons of chemical fracking fluid spilled into Bradford County when a well burst; many inhabitants were forced to evacuate.
In May of 2011, fracking was pronounced safe after serious scientific scrutiny. But to environmentalists, that just doesn’t cut it – nothing can undo the damage that has been done to U.S. citizens and to the environment by way of fracking accidents.
As the nation’s natural crude oil resources become depleted, the demand for shale oil increases, so the environmentalists will have to go up against some big-money, high powered opponents in order to take on the issue of fracking.
About the Author: Bryan Buckholtz is an environmentalist with a focus on writing about green living. He utilizes services like Metrofax email faxing and others to communicate with other agencies and negotiate contracts.