Explain why fossil fuel exploration could lead to high economic and environmental costs.

Topics: Petroleum, Natural gas, Coal Pages: 2 (720 words) Published: October 7, 2013
Explain why fossil fuel exploration could lead to high economic and environmental costs. (10) A fossil fuel is a natural fuel such as coal or gas, formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms. There are many environmental and economic costs behind the exploration of fossil fuels, and as demand is ever increasing, these costs in turn are multiplying.

There have been many environmental costs linked to the exploration of fossil fuels. Firstly looking at fracking, which has recently caused problems in the press. Fracking, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside. Hydraulic fracking produces approximately 300,000 barrels of natural gas a day, but at the price of numerous environmental, safety, and health hazards. Not only does this disrupt the structure of the earth’s surface, it is also adding to CO2 emissions through its transport; Each gas well requires an average of 400 tanker trucks to carry water and supplies to and from the site. The water brought in is mixed with sand and chemicals to create fracking fluid. Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used per fracturing. Up to 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid, including known carcinogens and toxins. (Much of this toxic water (aprox.60%) is non-biodegradable and is left in the ground). These toxins can be very harmful to the environment as during the process of fracking methane gas and toxic chemicals can leach out of the system and contaminate nearby groundwater. ‘Methane concentrations are 17x higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells.’ The waste fluid is left in open air pits to evaporate, releasing harmful VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere, creating contaminated air, acid rain, and ground level ozone.

Another exploration process that can cause environmental problems is the extraction and transportation of oil. Oil...
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