Posted by: terrauniversity | November 9, 2011

Who gives a frack? Should you?

Recently, environmental activists in the state of New York have been launching an all out war against hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking or hydro-fracking. Energy companies have been touting fracking as a new way to obtain natural gas. In this process,  water, chemicals and sand are injected vertically and/or horizontally at high pressures deep underground, releasing natural gas from the cracked rocks. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t require companies to disclose what those chemicals are.

According to Exxon, fracking is a safe and proven method of obtaining natural gas. See a video here.  Notice that the spokeswoman states that drilling does not being until “we” are satisfied that environmental and safety standards have been met. The question is:  who is “we?”

While Exxon claims that fracking is safe, there have been reports of carcinogenic chemical releases and earthquakes, including the recent earthquakes in Oklahoma.

Are earthquakes and exposure to harmful chemicals worth the price for increased domestic natural gas production? Is it ok to frack as long as it isn’t in your neighborhood? Would you want to drink treated water that was the toxic byproduct of fracking?

What is an energy-starved society to do?

For educators:  You might want to show and discuss the film Gasland with your classes. I have not seen this film, but it has been recommended.

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