How Can The Effects Of Hydraulic Fracturing Be Controlled Locally Through Proof Of Environmental Impact?
Although hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") has been used for many years on a limited basis, relatively recent advances in technology have allowed fracking to become extremely effective in accessing previously inaccessible deposits of oil and natural gas, resulting in much lower prices for gasoline as well as oil and gas for heating.
However, the euphoria of lowered fuel prices during a prolonged period of recession has overshadowed the negative effects of hydraulic fracturing, both directly and indirectly, on local water sources as well as the damage inflicted to the environment by cheaper fossil fuels.
Why is hydraulic fracturing used and how is it done?
Hydraulic fracturing allows access to oil and natural gas reserves that are beneath shale rock formations. These deposits contain vast amounts of both oil and gas that were previously unreachable through conventional drilling.
Fracking involves pumping large amounts of water and chemicals with great force to wear away the shale formations and retrieve the oil and gas trapped beneath them.
The water and chemicals are then collected and pumped into deep wells known as "injection wells."
What are the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing?
Indirect environmental impacts
The increased access to oil and natural gas has created a glut of supply, resulting in rapidly falling prices. Lower prices for fossil fuels means less incentive to reduce consumption and also less support for the development and improvement of alternative energy sources.
Auto manufacturers will then begin to produce more larger vehicles to satisfy consumer demand. All of these reactions produce an increased dependence on fossil fuels, which produce greenhouse gases that have been shown to greatly contribute to climate change.
Direct environmental impacts from hydraulic fracturing
The pumping of water and chemicals deep into injection wells has been shown to produce earthquakes in areas where earthquakes were once a rare phenomenon. While fracking itself causes smaller, non-threatening earthquakes, these created by injection wells can be strong enough to cause damage.
Injection wells can also contaminate aquifers that supply drinking water to wells if all of the protocols for protecting drinking water are not followed. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1974 details specific guidelines for protecting aquifers from contamination from injection wells as well as from various other sources.
However, these guidelines are not always followed, resulting in contamination of local well water supplies. Well water testing is essential in stopping these violations of the SDWA. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a state by state listing of approved labs for having your well water tested for contamination and violation of the SDWA.
You have a right to clean drinking water, and the support of the EPA to help you to keep your family safe, but you need to have your well water tested before action can be taken against those who would contaminate your well to cut corners and save a few bucks.
Click here for more information on having the water in your well tested for safety.