Frack No? Frack Yes? Who the Frack Knows?

By Sara McNally

Gasland Part II is a film by Josh Fox in which Hydraulic Fracturing is the main focus. Not only that, but the film focuses on the controversy surrounding it. Hydraulic Fracturing, known more commonly as “fracking,” is a way to extract natural gas from beneath the earth’s surface. The process of fracking includes pumping millions of gallons of water, sand, and various chemicals into the earth. The buildup of pressure from pumping this mixture into the earth works toward fracturing layers of shale and effectively releasing the natural gas that was once trapped in pockets of rock. The natural gas can then be harvested, sold, and burned as fuel.

The practice of fracking has recently taken off in the United States, where according to Al Granberg of propublica.org, fracking is used in 9 out of 10 natural gas wells. With such a rapid growth and such drastic environmental and economic repercussions, it is not hard to see how fracking can be considered a political problem.

On one hand, there are very few regulations when it comes to fracking. This is partially attributed to the fact that fracking cropped up relatively quickly and gained a lot of popularity. Because of the lack of regulations, the environment’s well-being ended up being almost entirely ignored. When drilling occurs too close to residential areas, the water supplies can become contaminated. This is what happened in Dimock, Pennsylvania in 2012. In this town, the water supply was completely contaminated with such high levels of methane that the tap water could be set on fire. People were driven out of their homes and forced to find somewhere else that had clean drinking water. To fix the issue, a 12 million dollar waterline had to be purchased to feed clean water to the residents of Dimock. Bri Griffith, Carlow University sophomore has said, “There were several assemblies at my high school, especially when I was a senior, where people would come and tell us that Hydraulic Fracturing was a great way to earn a lot of money without going to college.”

Of course the environmental risk when it comes to fracking is alarming, but there are also a few positive things that come out of this practice. For one, fracking has helped create a lot of jobs in America; in 2012, the oil and gas industry employed 1.2 million people and a lot of these jobs were a result of this type of drilling, says Fred Dew, contributor for brookings.edu. Additionally, fracking leads to having more access to alternative sources of fuel. Because more fuel is available locally, dependency on foreign oil is greatly decreased.

There is a pretty strong case for fracking because it can help lead the United States toward economic security. Conversely, the effects that fracking has on the environment are already being felt and it is frightening to think about what might happen to the earth if fracking continues without regulations. Is it more important to create jobs now, or is it more important to work on preserving the world around us? Honestly, who the frack knows?

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