Is fracking the future?

 

photo credit: citizenscampaign.org

Fracking is a new technology that has the potential to become one of the worlds biggest energy sources. Fracking has become big in the USA and the rest of the world is now starting to invest in its benefits. But as with any type of energy there are problems…

the problems

Fracking is a non renewable energy source. therefore it will concern people that by using shale oil gas we are just prolonging the climate change issue. Also, in order for it to be extracted, extraction plants have to be built and bore holes have to be drilled. This has lead to environmental issues as the extra infrastructure that has degraded landscapes, putting vulnerable wildlife at risk.  Forest and farmland has to be cleared, new transport links built and even just the presence of more people can create problems in areas that are usually uninhabited due to increased waste and air pollution from vehicles.

photo credit: thinkprogress.org

 

Another problem is that of water pollution. When a bore hole is drilled into the ground it can sometimes hit or create fissures underground that allow methane gas to leak into groundwater supplies. The fissures could also pollute water supplies by accidently connecting wastewater ponds and faulty wells to the water supply. If the water is polluted with methane it can make any water flammable. there have been cases where people near a fracking plant have turned on their bathroom tap and have been able to set the water alight by putting a match near it. This is obviously a huge safety issue, which is made worse by the fact that methane can leak into peoples homes, giving them lung diseases or eventually killing them. Methane can also create smog, which can lead to breathing problems and can kill those with existing breathing issues.

Also the drilling involved in fracking has been known to have caused several unnatural earthquakes. however, these earthquakes are too small to be a real hazard. It has even been suggested that these mini earthquakes may reduce the amount of large earthquakes in the future as the smaller earthquakes can relieve the pressure that could cause a large devastating earthquake.

the benefits

As with any new form of energy it can be welcomed as it provides much-needed jobs such as those in production, exportation and delivery services. In the USA, there was a 67% rise in employment in 2009 due to the fracking industry and in Pennsylvania fracking created 18,000 jobs. This employment can in turn benefit the local economy and the economy of the country as a whole. America’s GDP has risen after fracking started as America could now reduce the amount of energy imports from other countries, this also improved America’s energy security.

Electricity prices in America have plummeted since fracking began as more electricity companies are using shale oil gas to fuel their power stations instead of coal or oil, which is increasing in price. This decrease in electricity prices should continue in the future as shale gas plants are relatively cheap to build, meaning fracking could become the main energy source for many countries with natural supplies of shale oil gas.

Shale oil gas is also better for the environment than other non renewable energy supplies such as coal and oil. It produces half the amount of carbon emissions than coal and oil combined.  Although it does still produce pollutants, it can be seen as the better option for a more sustainable source of energy in the future as it doesn’t pollute as much as coal and oil but is more easily available than renewable energy sources.

Sources

 

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