So you may have heard the debate over something called “Fracking”. It’s one of the ways to extract natural gas. It’s become quite controversial, but what exactly is it? We’ll explain it and you can make your mind up about whether it’s a good way to go or not.
Fracking is used to get natural gas that is found in shale, a very hard rock that is about 5 to 10 thousand feet below the earth’s surface. In order to collect the gas, energy companies have to drill down thousands of feet then turn their drill horizontally and drill through shale layer that they want to extract the gas from.
Now, Fracking is also known as hydraulic fracturing, and that’s how it’s different to other ways to get natural gas. Basically it uses a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to open fissures in the rocks. Once the gas is released, they remove the water and collect the gas and bring it to the surface.
So you may already be thinking that this process may raise some concerns.
First, when they drill the well for the casing, it often has to go through water that we drink. While relatively few studies have been done about the impact of this, people are worried that the cocktail of chemicals used for Fracking would contaminate that groundwater.
Biology professor, Rob Jackson from Duke University has done a small study and he found no indication of dangerous fluid leaking into the water source. But he did find higher concentrations of methane and ethane close to the site of the drill head.
And those two gases are probably the reason behind videos like this. People setting water on fire. Methane and ethane are greenhouse gases and they can cause health problems. Although, they’re also produced in other natural gas extraction methods, so it’s not something new with Fracking.
But the process does put chemicals into the ground, and they could cause problems. Each energy company has their own “secret recipe” of chemicals, but a few common ones include mercury, lead and formaldehyde. A portion of this chemical mix is pumped out with the sand and water, and can be discarded. But this brings up the problem of toxic waste. It may also not be safe to make it drinking water again. So now some energy companies are recycling this liquid for use in Fracking somewhere else.
Other than chemicals, there are also concerns the drilling involved in Fracking could cause earthquakes.
Fracking has been linked to micro-seismic activity, but the size of most of them makes it the least threatening side effect. But if it happens near or on an existing fault line, the problem may be more serious.
So, given the greenhouse gas emissions, possible drinking water pollution and potential earthquake risks, is Fracking a good idea? Well, a lot of people argue that if every country were to ban Fracking like some countries have, we would just have to rely more heavily on coal, oil and nuclear energy. Others say it is a better short term solution while we transition to clean, renewable energy.
But what do you guys think? Should Fracking be allowed? Would you be concerned if it happens near where you live? Let us know in the comments section on youtube and don’t forget to like, subscribe and share this video.
More info: NTD
Produced by: NTDTV