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Pros and Cons of Fracking

A Case Study
Roselle Marie D. Azucena, MAN,MBA

Case Abstract:
Hydraulic fracturing (also hydrofracturing, hydrofracking, fracking or fraccing) is a
well-stimulation technique in which rock is fractured by a pressurized liquid. The
process involves the high-pressure injection of 'fracking fluid' (primarily water, containing
sand and other proppants suspended with the aid of gelling agents) into a wellbore to
create cracks in the deep-rock formations through which natural gas, petroleum, and
brine will flow more freely. When the hydraulic pressure is removed from the well, small
grains of hydraulic fracturing proppants (either sand or aluminium oxide) hold the
fractures open.[1]
Hydraulic fracturing began as an experiment in 1947, and the first commercially
successful application followed in 1950. As of 2012, 2.5 million "frac jobs" had been
performed worldwide on oil and gas wells; over one million of those within the U.S. [2][3]
Such treatment is generally necessary to achieve adequate flow rates in shale gas, tight
gas, tight oil, and coal seam gas wells.[4] Some hydraulic fractures can form naturally in
certain veins or dikes.[5]
Hydraulic fracturing is highly controversial in many countries. Its proponents advocate
the economic benefits of more extensively accessible hydrocarbons.[6][7] However

opponents argue that these are out-weighed by the environmental impacts, which
include the risks of contaminating ground and surface water; causing air and noise
pollution and potentially triggering earthquakes, along with the consequential hazards to
public health and the environment.[8][9]
The following are the enumerated reason going for Fracking:
Below are the arguments and synthesized evidence on some key issues, based on the
available research literature and conversations with diverse experts.
Air quality, health, and the energy menu
ISSUE: The new supply of natural gas reachable by fracking is now changing the
overall picture for U.S. electricity generation, with consequences for air quality.
PRO FRACKING: Increasing reliance on natural gas, rather than coal, is indisputably
creating widespread public health benefits, as the burning of natural gas produces fewer
harmful particles in the air. The major new supply of natural gas produced through
fracking is displacing the burning of coal, which each year contributes to the early death
of thousands of people. Coal made up about 50 percent of U.S. electricity generation in
2008, 37 percent by 2012; meanwhile, natural gas went from about 20 percent to about
30 percent during that same period. In particular, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide
emissions have been reduced dramatically. Fracking saves lives, and it saves them
right now and not at some indiscernible date well into the future.
CON FRACKING: First, it is not the case that a new natural gas facility coming online
always replaces a legacy coal-fired power plant. It may displace coal in West Virginia or
North Carolina, but less so in Texas and across the West. So fracking is no sure bet for
improving regional air quality. Second, air quality dynamics around fracking operations
are not fully understood, and cumulative health impacts of fracking for nearby residents
and workers remain largely unknown. Some of the available research evidence from
places such as Utah and Colorado suggests there may be under-appreciated problems
with air quality, particularly relating to ozone. Further, natural gas is not a purely clean

and renewable source of energy, and so its benefits are only relative. It is not the
answer to truly cleaning up our air, and in fact could give pause to a much-needed and
well thought-out transition to wind, solar, geothermal, and other sources that produce
fewer or no harmful airborne fine particulates.

Greenhouse gas leaks, methane and fugitive emissions


ISSUE: The extraction process results in some greenhouse gas emissions leakage.

Fracking in Pennsylvania, Marcellus Shale


PRO FRACKING: We know that, at the power plant level, natural gas produces only
somewhere between 44 and 50 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions compared
with burning of coal. This is known for certain; its basic chemistry. That is a gigantic
benefit. Further, some research that claims methane is so harmful uses a 20-year time
horizon; but over a 100-year time horizon the way we generally measure global

warming potential methane is not nearly so harmful as claimed. Thus, methanes


impact is potent but relatively brief compared with impacts of increased carbon dioxide
emissions. The number-one priority must be to reduce the reliance on coal, the biggest
threat to the atmosphere right now. Fears about emissions leaks are overblown. Even if
the true leakage rate were slightly more than EPA and some states estimate, it is not
that dramatic. We are developing technology to reduce these leaks and further narrow
the gap. Moreover, research-based modeling suggests that even if energy consumption
increases overall, the United States still will reap greenhouse benefits as a result of
fracking.
CON FRACKING: Research from Cornell has suggested that leaked methane a
powerful greenhouse gas from wells essentially wipes out any greenhouse gas
benefits of natural gas derived from fracking. And at other points in the life cycle, namely
transmission and distribution, there are further ample leaks. Falling natural gas prices
will only encourage more energy use, negating any cleaner benefits of gas. Finally,
there is no question that the embrace of cheap natural gas will undercut incentives to
invest in solar, wind, and other renewables. We are at a crucial juncture over the next
few decades in terms of reducing the risk of tipping points and catastrophic melting of
the glaciers. Natural gas is often seen as a bridge, but it is likely a bridge too far,
beyond the point where scientists believe we can go in terms of greenhouse gas levels
in the atmosphere.
Drinking water wars
ISSUE: Fracking may threaten human health by contaminating drinking water supplies.
PRO FRACKING: It is highly unlikely that well-run drilling operations, which involve
extracting oil and gas from thousands of feet down in the ground, are creating cracks
that allow chemicals to reach relatively shallow aquifers and surface water supplies.
Drinking water and oil and gas deposits are at very different levels in the ground. To the
extent that there are problems, we must make sure companies pay more attention to
the surface operations and the top 500 to 1,000 feet of piping. But thats not the fracking

thats just a matter of making sure that the steel tubing, the casing, is not leaking and
that the cement around it doesnt have cracks. Certain geologies, such as those in
Pennsylvanias Marcellus Shale region, do require more care; but research has found
that between 2008 and 2011, only a handful of major incidents happened across more
than 3,500 wells in the Marcellus. We are learning and getting better. So this is a
technical, well-integrity issue, not a deal-breaker. As for the flammable water, it is a fact
that flammable water was a reality 100 years ago in some of these areas. It can be
made slightly worse in a minority of cases, but its unlikely and it is often the result of
leaks from activities other than fracking. In terms of disclosure, many of the chemicals
are listed on data sheets available to first-responders: The information is disclosed to
relevant authorities.
CON FRACKING: This April, yet another major study, published in the Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences, confirmed that high-volume hydraulic fracturing
techniques can contaminate drinking water. There have been numerous reports by
citizens across the country of fouled tap water; it is a fact that some of the tap water has
even turned bubbly and flammable, as a result of increased methane. Well blowouts
have happened, and they are a complete hazard to the environment. The companies
involved cannot be trusted, and roughly one in five chemicals involved in the fracking
process are still classified as trade secrets. Even well-meaning disclosure efforts such
as FracFocus.org do not provide sufficient information. And we know that there are
many who cut corners out in the field, no matter the federal or state regulations we try to
impose. They already receive dozens of violation notices at sites, with little effect. Weve
created a Gold Rush/Wild West situation by green-lighting all of this drilling, and in the
face of these economic incentives, enforcement has little impact.
Infrastructure, resources, and communities
ISSUE: Fracking operations are sometimes taking place near and around populated
areas, with consequences for the local built and natural environments.

PRO FRACKING: Water intensity is lower for fracking than other fossil fuels and
nuclear: Coal, nuclear and oil extraction use approximately two, three, and 10 times,
respectively, as much water as fracking per energy unit, and corn ethanol may use
1,000 times more if the plants are irrigated. For communities, the optics, aesthetics, and
quality of life issues are real, but its worth remembering that drilling operations and rigs
dont go on forever its not like putting up a permanent heavy manufacturing facility.
The operations are targeted and finite, and the productivity of wells is steadily rising,
getting more value during operations. Moreover, the overall societal benefits outweigh
the downsides, which are largely subjective in this respect.
CON FRACKING: More than 15 million Americans have had a fracking operation within
a mile of their home. Still, that means that a small proportion of people shoulder the
burden and downsides, with no real compensation for this intrusive new industrial
presence. Fracking is hugely water-intensive: A well can require anywhere from two- to
20-million gallons of water, with another 25 percent used for operations such as drilling
and extraction. It can impact local water sources. The big, heavy trucks beat up our
roads over hundreds of trips back-and-forth with well-documented consequences for
local budgets and infrastructure. In places such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Colorado,
the drilling rigs have popped up near where people have their homes, diminishing the
quality of life and creating an industrial feel to some of our communities. This is poor
planning at best, and sheer greed at its worst. It seldom involves the preferences of the
local residents.
Finally, its also the case that relatively low impact fees are being charged and relatively
little funding is being set aside to mitigate future problems as wells age and further
clean-up is necessary. It is the opposite of a sustainable solution, as well production
tends to drop sharply after initial fracking. Within just five years, wells may produce just
10 percent of what they did in the first month of operation. In short order, were likely to
have tens of thousands of sealed and abandoned wells all over the U.S. landscape,
many of which will need to be monitored, reinforced, and maintained. It is a giant
unfunded scheme.

Earthquakes: Seismic worries


ISSUE: Fracking wells, drilled thousands of feet down, may change geology in a
potentially negative way, leading to earthquakes.
PRO FRACKING: Earthquakes are a naturally occurring phenomenon, and even in the
few instances where fracking operations likely contributed to them, they were minor.
Weve had tens of thousands of wells drilled over many years now, and there are
practically zero incidents in which operations-induced seismic effects impacted citizens.
Theres also research to suggest that the potential for earthquakes can be mitigated
through safeguards.
CON FRACKING: We are only just beginning to understand what we are doing to our
local geologies, and this is dangerous. The 2014 Annual Reviews of Environment and
Resources paper notes that between 1967 and 2000, geologists observed a steady
background rate of 21 earthquakes of 3.0 Mw or greater in the central United States per
year. Starting in 2001, when shale gas and other unconventional energy sources began
to grow, the rate rose steadily to [approximately] 100 such earthquakes annually, with
188 in 2011 alone. New research on seismology in places such as Texas and
Oklahoma suggests risky and unknown changes. It is just not smart policy to go
headlong first at massive scale and only later discover the consequences
Statement of the Problem:
Is the Use of Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) to Extract Natural Gas more
Advantageous?
Alternative Solutions:
1.Five (5) Technologies for Cleaner Shale Energy: GasFrac is one of a growing
number of companies, including giant GE and the oil services firm Halliburton, that are
pioneering technological improvements to mitigate some of the environmental
downsides to the process that has spurred a North American energy boom

A. Water-Free Fracking: GasFrac's fracking system, which uses a gelled fluid


containing propane, has other advantages besides eliminating the need for water,
according to Hill. Because the gel retains sand better than water, it's possible to get the
same results with one-eighth the liquid and to pump at a slower rate. Because GasFrac
says the amount of hydrocarbon in the gel is comparable to what's in the ground, the
fluid can simply merge into the flow being extracted from the ground, eliminating the
need to drain contaminated wastewater and haul it away in trucks for disposal, usually
at deep-well injection sites. "We present a much smaller footprint," he said. (See
related, "Fracking Waste Wells Linked to Ohio Earthquakes.")
B. Using Recycled Water or Brine: While fracking typically uses freshwater, industry
researchers have worked to perfect friction-reducing additives that would allow
operators to use recycled "gray" water or brine pumped from underground. Halliburton's
UniStim, which went on the market about a year ago, can create a highly viscous fluid
from any quality of water, according to Stephen Ingram, the company's technology
manager for North America. In northeastern Canada, one producer has tapped into a
deep subsurface saline water aquifer for a portion of its supplies for hydraulic fracturing.
C. Eliminating Diesel Fumes: The diesel-powered equipment used in drilling and
pumping wells can be a worrisome source of harmful pollutants such as particulates, as
well as carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. And diesel fuel is expensive.
Last year, Apache, a Houston-based oil and gas operator, announced it would become
the first company to power an entire fracking job with engines using natural gas. In
addition to reducing emissions, the company cut its fuel costs by 40 percent. Halliburton
has introduced another innovation, the SandCastle vertical storage silo for the sand
used in fracking, which is powered by solar panels. The company also has developed
natural-gas-powered pump trucks, which Ingram said can reduce diesel consumption on
a site by 60 to 70 percent, resulting in "a sizable reduction in both emissions and cost."

Drainage water pours into a settling pond near the booming oil fields of the MidlandOdessa region of West Texas.
D. Treating Wastewater: At hydraulic fracturing sites, the amount of wastewater
typically far exceeds the amount of oil produced. The fluid that returns to the surface
through the well bore is not only the chemically treated frack water, but water from the
rock formation that can contains brines, metals, and radionuclides. (See related,
"Forcing Gas Out of Rock With Water.") That wastewater must be captured and stored
on site, and then often is shipped long distances to deep well injection underground
storage facilities. There have been few treatment options. But Halliburton has
developed the Clean Wave treatment system, which uses positively charged ions and
bubbles to remove particles from the water at the fracking site. Last September, GE and
its partner Memsys also tested a new on-site treatment system that allows the water to
be reused without being diluted with freshwater, by employing a desalination process
called membrane distillation. (See related Quiz: What You Don't Know About Water and
Energy.
E. Plugging Methane Leaks: A major fracking concern has been whether companies
are allowing a significant amount of natural gas to escape, because methanethe main
component of natural gasis a potent greenhouse gas, 34 times stronger than carbon
dioxide (CO2). A recent study concluded U.S. methane emissions are likely 50 percent
higher than official government estimates. (See related, "Methane Emissions Far Worse
Than U.S. Estimates.") New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations that go

into effect next year will require that all U.S. oil and gas sites have equipment designed
to cut a wide range of pollutants, a step that the agency expects will cut methane. (See
related, "Air Pollution From Fracked Wells Will Be Regulated Under New U.S. Rules.")
Methane emissions from onshore oil and natural gas production could be reduced by 40
percent by 2018, at a cost that's the equivalent of just one cent per thousand cubic feet
of natural gas produced, concludes a just-released study, conducted by Fairfax, Va.based consulting firm ICF International for the Environmental Defense Fund. EDF's
Ratner said that inspectors equipped with infrared cameras can spot leaks at fracking
sites, which can then be plugged. "The cameras cost about $80,000 to $100,000
apiece," he noted. "But that can pay for itself, because the more leaks you fix, the more
gas you have to sell." (See related blog post: "Simple Fixes Could Plug Methane Leaks
From Energy Industry, Study Finds.")
Another improvement that can reduce methane emissions: Replacing conventional
pressure-monitoring pneumatic controllers, which are driven by gas pressure and vent
gas when they operate. A U.S.-wide move to lower-bleed designs could reduce
emissions by 35 billion cubic feet annually. And switching out conventional chemical
injection pumps used in the fracking process, which are powered by gas pressure from
the wells, and replacing them with solar-powered pumps, operators could eliminate an
5.9 billion cubic feet of methane emissions annually, the EDF report concludes.
The Cost-Benefit Equation
Some solutions do not require advanced technology. A study released Wednesday by
the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force suggests that almost all of the methane leaks
from the oil and gas infrastructure could be reduced at relatively little expense, often by
simply tightening bolts or replacing worn seals.
A number of greener fracking technologies already are being implemented, according to
industry officials. But one obstacle is economic. The newer, more environmentally
friendly technologies generally cost more than the legacy equipment they would
replace. Extracting natural gas with water-free fracking, for example, could cost 25

percent more than conventional fracking, according to David Burnett, a professor of


petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University who heads that school's
Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems Program. He said that switching fracking
equipment from diesel to natural gas is the innovation that's catching on most rapidly,
because it provides a clear economic benefit as well as helping to lower carbon
emissions. With the rising cost of renting fracking rigs, companies are eager to find
improvements that will reduce their costs, he said.
Green fracking is "the same as with any industryif you come out with a gamechanging technology, you can get in the market first and ride that," Burnett said.
But Halliburton's Ingram said that innovations such as chemical treatments to make
brine usable will drop in price as the technology is perfected. "Eventually it will become
the lower-cost chemistry," he said.
2.Fossil Fuels:
The World's Fossil Fuels are a finite resource that will be consumed within 500 years
at present and projected future rates of consumption. In addition these are often
accompanied by substantial pollutants and of course their major waste by-product,
carbon-dioxide gas, is the major Greenhouse emission of concern.
There is general consensus within the Scientific Community that a new phase of
global warming induced by carbon-dioxide emissions is currently underway and that the
World's temperature will rise significantly within the next century. There is still
substantial debate about the climatic consequences of this temperature rise although
there is little doubt that the world's climate will be different in 100 years time if we
continue to increase our rate of consumption of fossil fuels. Given that there is no clear
consensus on the outcome of the global warming and that some of the consequences
are very dire indeed, the safe course of action is to limit the amount of Global Warming
and hence to limit the amount of Greenhouse gas emission.

3.Oil:

Oil is the most precious and least abundant of the world's fossil fuels. Never-the-less
the amount of Oil on the Earth is likely at least the range of several trillion barrels of Oil
once non-conventional sources of Oil are considered. These include the Heavy Oil
deposits of South America, the Oil sands of Western Canada and shale Oil found
throughout the World. In addition as the price of Oil increases, previously abandoned
fields become economic to re-extract. Consequently despite constantly increasing Oil
production throughout the world, there is likely at least a century of usable Oil available
in the world. A more useful question is: At what price will petroleum and gasoline be
widely displaced as the fuel of choice for transport? It has already been largely
displaced as a fuel for Electricity.
4.Coal

Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel. It is found throughout the world and current
proven reserves are sufficient for at least 300 years of exploitation. Although coal is
cheap, it is dangerous to mine (thousands of miners die every year all over the world)
and is bulky and expensive to transport. Because coal has relatively low energy content
for its weight, a lot of it is required to produce a given amount of electricity. For example,
A 1000 MW coal power station requires about 8,600,000 kg of coal per day, compared
to 74 kg per day of uranium for the equivalent sized nuclear power plant. In addition
coal-based power plants produce vast amounts of pollutants, including radioactivity, in
addition to the C02 emissions which contribute to global-warming.
5.Natural Gas

Natural Gas reserves are intermediate between Coal and Oil. It is currently the most
favoured fuel source for new electricity production with the USA. Natural gas combinedcycle generators can reach 60% efficiency for converting heat energy into electricity.
Natural gas also produces 40 -50 % fewer CO2 emissions for the same amount of
electricity generated as Coal. However the price of Natural Gas is steadily rising and the

costs associated with sequestration of the generated CO2 are not yet included in the
price of electricity passed on the consumer.
6. Nuclear Fission
The cost of Nuclear Fission Power is dominated by the capital cost of construction
of the plant. These reactors also have significant increases in Uranium efficiency and
substantial increases in operating life of the plant (60 years). In addition the proponents
claim a ten-fold increase in safety of operation over previous generation reactors.
Disposal of Nuclear Waste remains a topic of intense debate and controversy.
Nuclear Fission is currently unique in that the costs of decommissioning and waste
disposal are fully reflected in the price of the generated electricity.
The nuclear industry has longer-term plans to develop advanced reactors that are
over 50 times more efficient in their use of Uranium and which consume a large fraction
of the long-lived waste generated from current (2nd generation) reactors. In addition
these plants may also be used to efficiently produce Hydrogen for use as a
transportation fuel and to de-salinate sea water. These are the Fourth
Generation Nuclear Reactors and are not expected to be ready for deployment before
2020.
There is a large and very vocal opposition to Nuclear Fission power because of the
radioactive material produced in the process of generating energy and from Nuclear
Proliferation concerns. There are also claims that Nuclear Power is more
expensive than alternative energy generation schemes. There are also numerous
websites and a document that counter such claims and offer strong opinion that Nuclear
Power is the best energy option.
7.Nuclear Fusion
Nuclear Fusion is often proposed as the ultimate energy source. Great progress has
been made in this field in the 50 years since it was first proposed. Construction has
started for the next generation Fusion Test Reactor (the ITER). Its projected start date is

2016. It will be operated for the 10 years following to learn the about the Physics and
Engineering required to build and operate a commercially competitive Power Plant. It is
projected to produce 500 MegaWatts of energy at full power. However much research
and development still needs to be done on the project.
8. Solar
Solar energy has made significant progress and is displacing fossil fuel technologies
from many niche applications.
a. Solar Thermal

These are technologies that concentrate sunlight to produce intense heat or light. Many
significant technology hurdles have been overcome through ingenious design and the
use of advanced materials. Nevertheless despite many years of effort these
technologies produce electricity at far higher cost than coal-based production. The
exceptions are when these are located in sunlight rich regions with poor access of
Fossil Fuels or where the full cost of Fossil Fuels are passed on to the consumer. Solar
b. Solar PhotoVoltaics

PhotoVoltaic systems convert sunlight directly into electricity by utilizing the


Quantum-Mechanical properties of light. There has been great progress at both
increasing the efficiency of solar cells for use in concentrator systems and in decreasing
the cost of large array converters.
9.Wind
Wind Power utilizes modern-versions of wind-mills to produce electricity. Its use is
growing world-wide. In countries with high-cost electricity production, favorable
geography and anti-nuclear policies, it is almost cost-competitive with conventional
electricity generation as an additional source of power-production. Its main drawback is
its intermittent availability. This means that on average it produces only about 25 -35%
of its peak capacity when averaged over a year and so it requires backup for windless

days. Large-scale wind use requires capital to both build the wind-powered turbines and
backup facilities.
There is a vocal environmental opposition to Wind Power from those who oppose
the visual impact of wind-turbines on the landscape, its danger to bird life and noise.
There are numerous websites that counter such claims.
10.Biomass
Biomass projects utilize various biological processes to generate hydrocarbon fuels
like Methane Gas and Diesel fuel. Modern Biomass projects focus on methane gas from
refuse and biodiesel fuel from algae, plants and waste products.
There is intense, world-wide research into this energy source as Biodiesel could well
become cost competitive as the price of conventional Oil increases. There are
numerous hobbyists who create Biodiesel fuel for their own use.
However, presently available crops are rather inefficient at converting sunlight into
useful fuel which makes biomass unsuitable for large-scale electricity production.
11.Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy relies on converting heat trapped underground to generate
useful power. In most cases this means converting the heat to electricity via the same
techniques employed by Fossil Fuel power stations. There are in addition several
locations in the world where Geothermal energy is also used to provide district heating.
Geothermal has the advantage over Wind and Solar power of being available 24
hours a day.
CONCLUSIONS:

"Natural gas is a cornerstone of some countries economy, providing a quarter of


the countrys total energy. It has brought lower prices, domestic jobs, and the
prospect of enhanced national security due to the potential of substantial
production growth. But the growth has also brought questions about whether both
current and future production can be done in an environmentally sound fashion
that meets the needs of public trust.
As with all energy use, shale gas must be produced in a manner that prevents,
minimizes and mitigates environmental damage and the risk of accidents and
protects public health and safety.
Four major areas of concern has been identified with the use of Fracking as
source of energy: (1) Possible pollution of drinking water from methane and
chemicals used in fracturing fluids; (2) Air pollution; (3) Community disruption
during shale gas production; and (4) Cumulative adverse impacts that intensive
shale production can have on communities and ecosystems.
There are serious environmental impacts underlying these concerns and these
adverse environmental impacts need to be prevented, reduced and, where
possible, eliminated as soon as possible. If effective environmental action is not
taken today, the potential environmental consequences will grow .Effective action
requires both strong regulation and a shale gas industry in which all participating
companies are committed to continuous improvement.
There has been a rapid expansion of production and rapid change in technology
and field practice that lead to adaptation and evolvement of regulations. Added to
this is the industrys pursuit of more efficient operations often has environmental
as well as economic benefits, including waste minimization, greater gas recovery,
less water usage, and a reduced operating footprint. So there are many reasons
to be optimistic for the continuous improvement of shale gas production in
reducing existing and potential undesirable impacts through a cooperative effort

among the public, companies in the industry, and regulators.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
The use of Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) to Extract Natural Gas is more
Advantageous

On the identified potential mechanisms by which hydraulic fracturing could affect


drinking water resources...the US Global Survey report that they did not find
evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on
drinking water resources in the United States. Of the potential mechanisms
identified in this report, they found specific instances where one or more of these
mechanisms led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination
of drinking water wells... Spills of hydraulic fracturing fluid and produced water in
certain cases have reached drinking water resources, both surface and ground
water. Discharge of treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater has increased
contaminant concentrations in receiving surface waters... In some cases,
hydraulic fracturing fluids have also been directly injected into drinking water
resources, as defined in this assessment, to produce oil or gas that co-exists in
those formations.
The number of identified cases where drinking water resources were impacted are
small relative to the number of hydraulically fractured wells. This could reflect a
rarity of effects on drinking water resources, or may be an underestimate as a
result of several factors.

Those living near fractured wells are potentially at risk of health threats given the
increased amount of volatile organic compounds and air toxins in the area. On the
flip side, when natural gas replaces, say coal as a fuel for generating electricity,
the benefits to air quality include lower carbon dioxide emissions than coal and
almost none of the mercury, sulfur dioxide or ash.

Fracking's hefty consumption of water is especially concerning considering that


much of the United States is currently suffering from drought. Fracking requires
more water than conventional gas drilling; but when natural gas is used in place of
coal or nuclear fuel to generate electricity, it ends up saving water
While the technology of drilling directional boreholes, and the use of sophisticated
hydraulic fracturing processes to extract gas resources from tight rock have
improved over the past few decades, the knowledge of this extraction will improve
how waste are managed and eventually protect water . Also while challenges
continue to exist with water availability and water management, innovative
solutions are emerging that allow shale gas development to continue while
ensuring that the water needs of other users can be met and that surface and
ground water quality is protected."
Fracking has become a major methodology to produce energy that are cost
effective compared to coal and oil. To quote Terry Engelder, PhD, Professor of
Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, wrote in her Sep. 14, 2011 article
"Should Fracking Stop?" in Boston University's Comment:
"I believe that there is enough domestic gas to meet our needs for the foreseeable
future thanks to technological advances in hydraulic fracturing. According to IHS,
a business-information company in Douglas County, Colorado, the estimated
recoverable gas from US shale source rocks using fracking is about 42 trillion
cubic metres, almost equal to the total conventional gas discovered in the United
States over the past 150 years, and equivalent to about 65 times the current US

annual consumption. During the past three years, about 50 billion barrels of
additional recoverable oil have been found in shale oil deposits more than 20%
of the total conventional recoverable US oil resource. These tight oil resources,
which also require fracking to access, could generate 3 million barrels a day by
2020, offsetting one-third of current oil imports. International data arent as well
known, but the effect of fracking on global energy production will be huge.
Another point to raise going for Fracking is that Global warming is a serious issue
that fracking-related gas production can help to alleviate... Mankinds inexorable
march towards 9 billion people will require a broad portfolio of energy resources,
which

can

be

gained

only

with

breakthroughs

such

as

fracking...

Global warming aside, there is no compelling environmental reason to ban


hydraulic fracturing. There are environmental risks, but these can be managed
through existing, and rapidly improving, technologies and regulations. It might be
nice to have moratoria after each breakthrough to study the consequences
(including the disposal of old batteries or radioactive waste), but because energy
expenditure and economic health are so closely linked, global moratoria are not
practical. The gains in employment, economics and national security, combined
with the potential to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions if natural gas is
managed properly, make a compelling case."
Gas is surely going to be an important part of the mix for many years to come.
There is really no reason why properly regulated fracking should not proceed
"The key is to reduce the environmental costs as much as possible, while making
the most of the environmental benefits."

References

1.

Luca Gandossi, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Energy and Transport
(2013). An overview of hydraulic fracturing and other formation stimulation
technologies for shale gas production (pdf). Scientific and Technical Research
series. (Report) (European Commission Luxembourg: Publications Office of the
European Union). Retrieved 29 May 2015.

2.

King, George E (2012), Hydraulic fracturing 101 (PDF), Society of


Petroleum Engineers, Paper 152596

3.

Staff. "State by state maps of hydraulic fracturing in US.". Fractracker.org.


Retrieved 19 October 2013.

4.

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Citations:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/03/140319-5-technologies-forgreener-fracking/
http://alternativeenergy.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001732
http://occupytheory.org/list-of-pros-and-cons-of-fracking/
http://occupytheory.org/list-of-pros-and-cons-of-fracking/
http://scientific-alliance.org/scientific-alliance-newsletter/pros-and-cons-fracking
The Fracking Truth by Chris Faulkner (June 30, 2014, Platform Press)
http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-fracking

Fracking: The pros and cons of the booming and controversial extraction process The
Center for Michigan | Bridge Magazine on May 20, 2014 at 2:05 PM, updated May 20,
2014 at 2:09 PM
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Aug. 18, 2011 report "Shale Gas Production
Subcommittee 90-Day Report" on shalegas.energy.gov