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WELCOME TO THE ZOO | Fracking

With an open mind and two sides of the story, you’re bound to learn something new.

Welcome to the zoo! This is a blog where both the Republican and Democratic viewpoints are represented. The blog is not meant to sway you either way necessarily, just to present both sides of the story. You may not agree with the whole article, but hey, you’re likely to agree with half! The topic this week: fracking.

Stance 1

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of drilling down through the earth using a high pressure water mixture that is directed at rock to release the gas inside. Using water, sand and a variety of chemicals injected into the rock, the process allows natural gases to flow out of the ground.

Some environmentalists caution against fracking due to the lack of research about the long term effects of the process. Fracking companies use a multitude of chemicals to help release the natural gases from the earth. These chemicals have not been tested fully, nor do we know the long term implications of using such a combination of chemicals. Residents in neighborhoods that are affected by fracking are concerned that the groundwater and air will be polluted by oil spills or gas emissions.

Agriculture communities are impacted most by fracking. The price of water has increased because fracking companies use the water from their wells. In regions in Texas and New Mexico, some aquifers have dried up due to the high usage from large companies. In 2010 in Pennsylvania, 35,000 gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluid escaped into the air and forested areas surrounding the well blowout. An investigation regarding the effect and cause of the blowout is still in progress. Communities near areas in which companies want to frack are concerned that a similar accident will happen to them, in turn compromising their water and clean air. In rural communities affected by the Shale extraction process, it was found that children and adults had adverse health effects disproportionate to surrounding areas. Released chemical particles from the fracking process could be the cause of the health problems in these towns.

Many also argue that our government is investing billions of dollars to support burning gas and the extraction of natural gases when we should focus more on renewable sources of power. Rather than spending money on continuing our usage of natural gases for energy, we should invest in researching nuclear power, solar power, wind power and other renewable energy sources.

I do not believe we can or should stop fracking immediately since we currently rely on natural gases, however I do think we should invest more money into researching renewable power that will benefit us in the long run.

Liberally yours,

Rebecca

Stance 2

Hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, has been a consistently controversial method of energy extraction. However, a closer look reveals that fracking is extremely beneficial to America. The practice of fracking promotes energy independence. Our country’s oil imports are at their lowest level since the 1980s, consequently we are sending less money to foreign governments that do not have our best interests in mind. By tapping into our own natural resources we are able to prosper as a country. Fracking has led to decreased gas prices that have resulted in the recent growth of America’s manufacturing sector. In addition, each year, drilling leases billions of dollars of transfer payments to rural communities across America. For example, Fort Worth Independent School District received more than nine million dollars in property tax revenue from oil and gas in 2014. Hence, the fracking process contributes to funds that support local schools.

The main argument made against fracking is the environmental impact, specifically groundwater contamination. For one, natural gas is one of the cleanest energy sources and has helped America reduce our CO2 emissions 1.7% so that our greenhouse gas emissions are at their lowest rate in 20 years. As for the groundwater issue, large amounts of water are required to start a well, which is particularly a problem for regions in which water demand exceeds freshwater supplies. However, effective water management techniques provide solutions to these prospective problems. Basic treatment and reuse of flowback water simultaneously alleviates water supply and wastewater disposal concerns. A practice becoming increasingly common in the United States is looking beyond freshwater supplies and using abandoned mines, stormwater control basins and municipal treatment plants (both effluent and recycled water) as water sources. Clearly, fracking is not as bad for the environment as those against the practice would like the population to believe.

The process of hydraulic fracturing to obtain natural gas is a wonderful method of energy extraction that promotes energy independence, spurs economic growth and lowers CO2 emissions. With continuing research along with adherence to regulations and industry best practices, our knowledge and acceptance of fracking will continue to grow.

Conservatively yours,

Katie

Rebecca Saber is a junior government major in the College of Arts and Sciences. She aspires to be Secretary of State, but is willing to settle for Supreme Court Justice. When she is not writing about politics, Rebecca can be found watching TV in her bed or at some musical theater rehearsal. Welcome to the Zoo appears on alternate Wednesdays this semester. If you want to chat, Rebecca can be reached at rms432@cornell.edu.

Katie Barlow is a junior biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences. When not debating politics, she can be found running half marathons, eating mashed potatoes, and teaching tree climbing for COE. Welcome to the Zoo appears on alternate Wednesdays this semester. If you’re up for a chat, Katie can be reached at kmb324@cornell.edu.

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