Analysis of the Economic & Environmental Effects of Fracking
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock. Fracking allows the world to retain natural gas from depths that were deemed unreachable by conventional technology. Recent advancements in Fracking technology have propelled America to the forefront of natural gas extraction. By this method, the shale rock is punctured with a high pressure fluid, causing it to rupture and allow the movement of petroleum and brine. After the fluid fractures the rock, the pressure is removed as well, and small pieces of aluminum oxide (hydraulic fluid) hold the fractures open. The shale rock, permeable to all natural gases, then is available for extraction. Fracking has endless possibilities, Chief executive officer of Chesapeake Energy Corporation Aubrey McClendon said, Natural gas is the one fuel that we have that's affordable, it's scaleable, it can replace coal over time, it can replace imported oil, can create American jobs1. It is clear that Fracking is a ground breaking technology. However, Fracking is a rather controversial topic, as economists and environmentalists debate whether the economic gains outweigh the detrimental effect it has on the environment. Fracking enables America to be the third largest producer of petroleum and brine in the world since it tripled domestic gas production over the last ten year, thereby, allowing the US to be less oil dependent on other countries. On the other hand, Fracking is destructive to the environment since it releases carcinogens and toxic chemicals and pollutes the drinking water in proximity to the plant.
Injecting fluid to stimulate shale rock has existed since the 1860s. In 1930, there was initial attempts to inject non explosive fluid into the shale rock which allowed natural gas to leak out. Approximately twenty years later, the first hydraulic fracturing of wells was introduced by Stanolind Oil. However, after two years, Halliburton company became the first company to fracture at an industrial level. It was not until 1974 that the government started to regulate the pollution level of drinking water. Congress stated that fracking does not contaminate water and does not negatively affect the environment. In 2000, present day fracking technology was introduced and put into effect in Texas. Five years later the fracking boom started after the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that it is not allowed under their power to investigate a natural gas company. However, in 2010, the government broke their laissez-faire policy with oil extraction, and is currently investigating the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the environment. Economic Advantages
The Fracking technology is responsible for the increase in oil and gas production. In 2011, the US produced 8,500,983 million cubic feet of natural gas from shale gas wells, a value of about $36 billion, due to shale gas alone2. America is now the world’s largest producer of natural gas. As a result, imported gases compose merely eight percent of total natural gas consumption in the United States. Since America does not rely on imported gas, the United states has balanced it trade as the US' domestic supply has grown to meet its demand. Business magnate T.Boone Pickens simply states, Natural gas is the best transportation fuel. It's better than gasoline or diesel. It's cleaner, it's cheaper, and it's domestic. Natural gas is 97 percent domestic fuel, North America3. Hydraulic fracturing has also created thousand of new jobs accross the country. In total, hydraulic fracturing directly and indirectly have been responsible for employing over 850,000 employees. In 2020, it is projected that smart drilling4 will employee 1.5 million employees. These onsite jobs on average pay more than twenty nine dollars per hour. This average rate exceeds the national rate5 by sixteen percent. Additionally,...
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