Free The Fracking Industry Research Paper Sample
Fracking industry is growing these days due to the increasing demand of petroleum and natural gas. The process serves to fulfill the demand but it has attracted attention of many because of the hazards it pose to the drinking water and environment. The States regulate the safety measures but some are concerned more in the economic benefits of shale gas. Recently, many documentaries are made concerning the issues related to Fracking. So, the Fracking process has become a national issue as states cannot regulate Fracking risks fully.
Fracking is a process through which oil and natural gas is extracted from rocks deep below the earth surface. The process involves drilling the ground vertically up to thousands of feet deep and then horizontal drilling to reach the center of the zone of gas. The rock called Marcellus is fractured by pressurized liquid consisting of water, sand and chemicals. As a result of this process natural gas, petroleum and brine is obtained. It has increased the yield of gas and oil supply but Fracking process causes toxicity in drinking water and is not environmentally friendly. The U.S. environment protection agency is evaluating the hazards caused by Fracking and are doing detail research on every step of the process from getting water supply, its use in process, the flowback of water and its disposal.
The Marcellus Shale is present in southern states, West Virginia to eastern Ohio, in central and northern Pennsylvania and in New York. It is present in less populated areas where watershed, landscape and economic benefit are good. The landowners of these regions are looking at the examples of other neighboring states before deciding to work with the companies of Fracking or to prohibit them from it. They are looking at the environmental and health issues of Fracking (Wilber, T., 2012).
Industries in the US practicing Fracking:
There are many large and small companies thet are involved in Fracking process. The large scale, popular industries include Chevron Corp. (CVX), ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) and ConocoPhillips Co. (COP). These three industries have given huge supply in the last five years. As the demand of natural gas is increasing so are the companies increasing and it is relatively easy to set business of Fracking. U.S. used 20.7 million of natural gas in 1993 and in 2013 the use of it increased to 26.03 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The industries which provide proppant and other equipment for Fracking are also growing fast (Marc Bianchi, an analyst at Cowen and Company).
Consequences of Fracking in the US:
Fracking process has increased the yield of both gas and oil and is less economical than traditional methods of extraction but the process has adverse consequences too. The drinking water is damaged by the accidental leakage of chemicals used in Fracking and its mixing at the ground level. The leaky cement pipes around the vertical well can mix methane gas with fresh water aquifers. It is called stray gas. Its presence is reported in Pennsylvania Fracking site (Osborn and others, 2011; Jackson and others, 2013). The Marcellus shale releases a radioactive material, radium, which can penetrate and damage bones and tissues (Schmoker, 1981; Bank and others, 2010). Drill cuttings get oxidized on exposure to air and rain water and result in acidic metal-rich leachate production. Cutting down of trees over a large area to at the site of extraction is damaging the ecosystem. The road infrastructure is also destroyed in transportation of equipment and when the trucks and cranes pass.
A film was made by Josh Fox on Fracking hazards (Gasland, 2010). Josh Fox was offered $100,000 by a Fracking company to let them build the industry at his property. He not only rejected their offer but travelled across many states to look for the hazards of Fracking on the environment. He was surprised to find that the tap water was badly contaminated by Fracking chemicals, the residents of Fracking areas had similar chronic illness and the toxicity in waste has affected livestock and plantation to a great deal.
Fracking provides major energy source and it has changed greatly the energy which people use and the way they use it. It has revolutionized the world. The first person who introduced Fracking was Oklahoman, Texas oilman. But with this his own public carrier ended and he is now making efforts to save the industry from itself (Gold, R.).
Many oil and gas companies were convincing government to exempt them from certain environmental laws, like Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act, so that they can carry on their business freely. They were successful in this attempt and now they are not bound to report more than 900 chemicals they use in their Fracking process. These companies, Conoco Phillips, Chesapeake Energy and Talisman Energy, spent more than three million dollars in convincing government for these exemptions (Halt Fracking! 68 groups say to Obama, 2011). CEO, founders and 68 groups of organizations are now approaching Obama to implement law or measures to stop the process of Fracking so as to ensure safety to public.
The Fracking industry is exempted from a number of environmental laws by federal government. These laws include Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safety Drinking Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act and the Superfund Act. The Energy Policy Act (2005) has control over permitting of drilling and wastage treatment at federal level. However, states hold the authority to permit companies to carry out activities and they can implement certain safety laws to protect the environment and drinking water. The States should obey federal laws and the policies set by EPA for Fracturing companies. The Clean Water Act passed in1972 was amended by EPS and it permitted Fracking industries precipitation runoff but the presence of petroleum and waste water was prohibited.
A report by Wolfgang, B. in New York Times (2012) tells about the individual beliefs and views of the invited groups about the future of Fracking. It tells the discussions on roundtable about the technicalities of Fracking but no analysis or report by EPA was given. Some states, like New York, are planning to prohibit the extraction of natural gas through Fracking process. This has given a victory to the environmentalists. An article “New York to ban Fracking; environmentalists cheer” (2014) was published regarding this. It tells that this decision was considered because Fracking involved many explored and unexplored health risks and the economic benefits are also doubtful in the long run.
Non-governmental agencies against Fracking:
Many non-governmental agencies are fighting against Fracking in the benefit of the nation as a whole. Their primary concern is to protect environment and ensure health, chemical free water supply. Earthwork is a non-profit organization which is working in this sector. Its objective is to protect communities and environment from the hazards of Fracking and provide alternative solutions. It ensures that the water, air and land remain clean from impurities so that people remain healthy. They want to protect the resources of Earth and the communities. Another non-government organization called “Food and Water Watch champions” is working with the objective to provide healthy food and water to the people. They support the corporations which are in favor of protecting life of citizens and environmental protection. This organization work independently and is not influenced by governmental and corporate pressure.
A group of activist, Ohio Environmental Council, is making efforts to implement a law for protection of public from Fracking hazards. They want a law to be passed according to which Fracking companies will have to report all the chemicals present or in use at the site. They must report to concerned authorities about these chemicals before their leakage or accidental spill. In this way the department, especially water department, will know what they are providing people and take adequate measures.
Fracking has given enormous benefit in respect to oil and gas production but the adverse effects it imposes to the health of people and to the environment is worth considering to shut down or impose strict laws on the Fracking industries. The risk of health and environment is above the benefits of oil sources. The government has exempted the companies from various environmental policies which reflect that economy weighted above health. Non-government organizations are working for the welfare of the world’s habitants and documentary films are made to aware public about the hazard to their lives. A journalist, Phelim McAleer, is looking into the issues of Fracking and is consulting environmentalists and anti-Fracking groups. He is getting threats for his activities. But this effort has to continue till health protection is ensured. A film “FrackNation” was made in Los Angeles which addresses the issues of Fracking. Policies should be made, and implemented earliest possible, so that not only further hazards are prevented but the present disasters are also reduced.
Act on Fracking. (2014, October 29). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://www.theoec.org/campaign/act fracking?gclid=CI3Yr5XTiMQCFQUdgQod1hEA0w
EARTHWORKS. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/hydraulic_fracturing_101#.VPPQzosmTdk
Fracking. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/fracking/
Fracknation [Motion picture]. (n.d.).
Gasland [Motion picture]. (2010). Docurama Films
Gold, R. (n.d.). The boom: How fracking ignited the American energy revolution and changed the world.
Graves, J. (n.d.). Fracking: America's alternative energy revolution.
HALT FRACKING! 68 GROUPS SAY TO OBAMA. (2011, August 8). States News Service. Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-263670224.html?
New York to ban fracking; environmentalists cheer. (2014, December 17). AP Online. Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1A1-e6a4f4562fad4493b22e1704e24f9bdf.html?
Wilber, T. (2012). Under the surface: Fracking, fortunes and the fate of the Marcellus Shale. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Wolfgang, B. (2012, December 24). EPA Offers Hints on Fracking's Future; 'Water Cycle' Will Be Big Part of Final Report. The Washington Times. Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-312911749.html?
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