Hydrofracking is the sometimes controversial process of extracting natural resources from beneath the surface of the soil. By fracking the rock layer that is sometimes thousands of feet below the surface, oil and natural gas reserves can be accessed. This is accomplished by drilling down to the rock layer in order to crack it open. Although we do need the energy that hydrofracking is able to access, there may be some disadvantages to using this technique that was developed over 70 years ago. What has many people upset is the fact that hydrofracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
There are some other advantages and disadvantages to consider with this energy extraction process. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of hydrofracking.
Here Are the Pros of Hydrofracking
1. It is the most efficient energy extraction process.
The reason why hydrofracking has been around for 70 years is because it is the most efficient method of energy extraction from the rock layer that we know of right now. There are alternatives being developed to extract energy resources from shale rock right now, but adapting them now instead of using hydrofracking would make energy costs become much higher.
2. The United States has abundant levels of shale rock.
One of the dangers that any society faces is to put their future into the hands of someone else. Over the last 20 years, the United States has done this thanks to their level of oil imports that occur on a daily basis. The hydrofracking process has helped to make energy production domestically viable and decrease economic reliance on the policies and procedures of other countries.
3. It can be a massive job creator.
When hydrofracking was introduced into Pennsylvania, it created over 72,000 high paying jobs in just two years and helped to spark an economic recovery that was better than many other areas of the country after the Great Recession.
4. It can help to create more usable water.
We often think of hydrofracking as an energy production resources, but it can drill for other purposes as well. The process of hydrofracking is often used to turn fresh water wells that have dried up into viable wells once again.
5. Mostly sand and water are used for the hydrofracking process.
Only 5% of the solution that is used for hydrofracking has a chemical component to it. If you look underneath your kitchen sink, there’s a good chance you’ll see the same type of ingredients that are typically found in a hydrofracking solution. This water is then stored in a retention pond until it can be properly disposed of when the hydrofracking work has been completed.
Here Are the Cons of Hydrofracking
1. There is a direct impact to the air quality of a region that allows hydrofracking.
Air quality that was measured at rural Wyoming hydrofracking sites has been compared to the air quality of Los Angeles on a smoggy day – and the hydrofracking was worse. Ozone levels of 124 parts per billion were discovered, which is 50 parts per billion more ozone than is recommended for good health.
2. Inhaled silicon can cause some major health problems.
Workers who are handling the sand that is used for hydrofracking risk breathing in the silica particles on the job site. In collecting air samples from almost a dozen sites, all of them exceeded the silica concentrations that are considered to be safe, meaning that proper respiratory equipment would be required to prevent silicosis.
3. Water pollution is a very common outcome.
Although only 5% of the solution of hydrofracking is a chemical solution, imagine what would happen if this solution were to become a permanent part of the water supply. Would you choose to drink water from the tap that was 5% bleach or ammonia? Hydrofracking from drilling can contaminate drill water, but so can the energy resources, natural radioactive materials, and other heavy metals that may be released in the rock cracking process.
4. There are numerous health risks to the surrounding population.
In looking at the complete list of chemicals that are used for hydrofracking, 3 out of 4 of them will cause a negative effect when exposed to the eyes, skin, and other body parts. 1 out of 2 of them will affect the central nervous system, immune system, or cardiovascular system. 1 in 4 of these chemicals is know to cause mutations, birth defects, and even cancer.
5. It has a high risk of oil spills. In 2011, oil companies that are involved with hydrofracking in North Dakota reported over 1,000 oil spills. Although the data cannot be confirmed, it is believed that if unreported spills were also documented, the annual amount of spills would be double or even triple this number. According to the Associated Press, the amount of drilling waste that has been created over the last 10 years has risen by an astounding 5100%. The total amount in weight equals 512,000 tons.
6. Honesty isn’t always involved.
When a pipeline ruptured and spilled 42,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River, ExxonMobil disclosed that the pipeline had been carrying corrosive tar sands oil. If the oil spill had never occurred, the disclosure would likely not have occurred – a disclosure that was supposed to have been made to regulator.
Is Hydrofracking the Right Choice to Make?
There are some clear advantages to hydrofracking that make inviting its use a tempting prospect for many communities. There are also some clear disadvantages that create a compelling argument against the use of hydrofracking. By weighing the pros and cons of this practice that releases needed energy, each community can decide if the risks are worth the benefits that hydrofracking can bring. Right or wrong, great care needs to be taken during the hydrofracking process so that workers and the surrounding region do not suffer the potentially negative health benefits that this process is known to bring.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.