Hydraulic fracturing or Fracking is one of the most controversial practices of the modern age. It is the practise of blasting Shale rock with a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to release natural gas. The mixture fractures bedrock, releasing the gas, which then flows out the head of the well. Fracking has become controversial for a number of reasons.
Fracking Leads To Earthquakes
Fracking has been used extensively in the US and has raised a lot of criticism as environmental concerns arose. One of such concerns is the resulting earthquakes that have surfaced in the wake of the expansion of fracking. Areas that have previously never experienced any kind of tremor are now regularly getting earthquakes exceeding a magnitude of 3.0, the highest recorded so far was a 5.7 magnitude. Oklahoma has been one of the most affected by this as they had 585 earthquakes over the course of 2014. This didn’t get their government to outlaw the practise, in fact, after the city had accepted the research that undeniably states that fracking causes earthquakes they signed a bill into law that prevents any future bans on fracking being put in place. Back in the UK however, in the wake of fracking the Blackpool area has already experienced tremors. So far it has experienced two small earthquakes measuring 1.5 and 2.2 in magnitude respectively.
Contamination Of Ground Water
Due to the method that is used there are fears that chemicals used in fracking will contaminate ground water of the surrounding area. The chemicals are all hazardous to humans with 25% of them that are suspected to cause cancer mutations and 40-50% of them that could affect the brain and nervous system of those who are exposed to it. Breast cancer rates have been dropping in recent years according to the National Cancer Institute in the US. However in Texas, a state with some of the highest concentrations of shale gas production also has the highest rates of breast cancer. This spike in cancer rates can be further narrowed down to the 6 counties in which fracking is practiced.
Stifling Of Progress
The practise of fracking has been expanding exponentially since the 80’s in the search for other natural resources for energy. Anti fracking activists have made the point that this only furthers our dependance on fossil fuels, and it is only contributing to climate change. While we have this reliance on yet another fossil fuel, we are not pursuing the avenues of renewable energy that are available to us. This is holding back the increases in efficiency and innovation that are seen when we invest in an area as a society. As long as energy companies have no incentive to change their practices we will remain in a state where we are stagnant in our progress of saving the environment which we need to live.
That being said, a ban on fracking should be implemented, at least until we know for certain the causes of the environmental and health problems that have arisen since its widespread use. The industry claims that cases of pollution are the result of poor practice; Not inherently dangerous techniques. This should be a question that is answered before fracking takes place and not after towns are rocked by earthquakes and people fall ill to cancer.
From what we have seen thus far fracking hasn’t been environmentally friendly nor has it been healthy to be anywhere near. My opinion is that it should be banned, at least until the industry gets it’s act together and tidies up their practices, if not indefinitely. Sign the petition to ban fracking, it’ll only take a second.