What is Fracking?

What is Fracking?

Man continues to forge ahead with fossil fuel technology regardless of a barrage of various warnings of pollution, water compromise and of course global warming. One of the more recent attempts at squeezing mother earth of what it has left, deeply embedded in its many crustal layers, is called hydraulic fracturing, hydrofracking or simply “fracking”. This is the practice of disengaging domestic oil and natural gas, known as ‘shale’ oil or gas, due to it being in-between deep seated rock that was long thought of as impossible to recover.

Fracking Diagram

Fracking Diagram

The Technique

The ability to use horizontal drilling mechanisms that were recently acquired by the oil companies is the basic brainchild of fracking. It begins with vertically drilling into sideways rock, then small explosives are placed and remotely detonated. The result is that the trapped oil and/or gas are violently released into a flood of water, sand and chemicals simultaneously injected into the rock to ‘grab’ and transport it to the well head. New pathways are easily formed and extensions of existing channels can be attained to offer a dual approach to excavating as much trapped material available. The term ‘fracking’ is not only a short definition of hydraulic fracturing but it also describes the result of fractured rock due to this high pressure drilling technique and the results are not very pretty at all.

What Is Left?

The enormous amount of water and chemicals needed to extract the trapped oil and gas is a growing concern for nearby residents of fracking projects. The targeted areas were once thriving, green hills of untouched wilderness. What is left consists of a lifeless, colorless pit of mud and stagnant water. If restoration is attempted it is usually in the form of bulldozed soil into a toxic chemical pit, trees are planted and, in time, nothing is able to grow due to the lack of essential nutrients leached away by the fracking process. Wildlife is forced to other areas which may or may not be as hospitable and years of cleanup could be in the cards. This is yet another collateral price to pay for keeping fossil fuels and their environmentally unsound byproduct in existence.

Earthquakes?

Believe it or not, fracking has caused small earthquakes. These proven tremors occurred in the Blackpool area of England during April and May of 2011. 2.3 and 1.5 Richter scale tremors where reported to definitely be the result of nearby fracking. Other reports of possible, similar events came out of Oklahoma as well as 13 other states involved in fracking projects during the same year.

The Benefits

Like any mining excavation, the good is considered to outweigh the bad. Terry Engelder, a professor of geosciences at Penn State, reports that northeastern fracking could produce upwards of approximately 20 years of natural gas energy. There is also the matter of employing hundreds, if not thousands of workers.

The question is not, “What is fracking?” but instead “How can we embrace this harmful practice due to our dire need of energy supplies?” Or, how can we not?

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