Hydraulic fracturing, better known as hydrofracking, has become one of the more popular, cost-efficient ways for oil and gas companies to extract natural gas from the earth.
It’s also highly controversial. Natural gas, which is a fossil fuel created when layers of organic matter in the earth being subjected to thousands of years of heat and pressure, is extracted by fracturing — or fracking — deposits of shale to release the natural gas stored beneath them. Yet there are a number of risks, both to the environment and to humans, that have led a large number of people to protest against frac work in their area.
But is hydrofracking really as bad as it’s made out to be?
Here are the top pros and cons of the notorious technique of hydraulic fracturing:
Pro: Fracking is good for the economy
It’s estimated that North America contains enough natural gas deposits stored within its shale formations to make the U.S. completely energy independent, as well as a key exporter of oil field products, if these resources were to be extracted through fracking.
Con: Fracking threatens public health
One of the biggest concerns about hydrofracking is its impact on the environment. Frac work involves pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals — the exact ingredients of which oil and gas companies aren’t required to disclose — into the ground. Many environmental experts worry this technique could allow poisonous chemicals to enter the groundwater, posing a huge threat to people who don’t know their water is contaminated.
Pro: Natural gas is a preferable fossil fuel
Research has shown that using natural gas as an energy source for heating houses and powering cars produces significantly less carbon emissions than coal and gasoline do. People who support fracking for natural gas say that natural gas is an ideal “bridge fuel” to use as an energy source until the U.S. can more fully embrace sustainable, renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
Con: Fracking is neither discreet nor quiet
Heavy trucks are required to transport frac trailers, and this means that transporting natural gas to and from a frac site requires the natural landscape to be transformed into heavy-duty industrial highways. In addition, fracking and drilling rig systems create a high level of noise and light pollution — a major disturbance for people who live near a fracking site.
What are your thoughts and opinions on frac work? Should hydrofracking be accepted as a way to obtain natural gas? Let us know exactly what you think by leaving a comment below.