Hydraulic fracturing, AKA "fracking," refers to a process of extracting gas and oil from shale rock. According to BBC, "Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside."
A mixture of water, sand, and chemicals get shot into the Earth at high pressure and allows for gas to flow out. The process can either be done vertically or horizontally.
"Fracking" gets its name from the way the rock under the surface is broken apart or "fractured" by the high-pressure injection of chemicals. Many people champion fracking because it has put America on the path of an "energy revolution," and offers a way for the U.S. to tap into its own oil reserves without having to go overseas for oil.
According to Power Past Impossible, "Because of shale and fracking, the International Energy Agency projects that the U.S. could become the world’s leading oil producer by 2015. As for natural gas, the United States is the leading producer in the world, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)."
However, there are also awful environmental consequences due to fracking. According to BBC, "Environmentalists say potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site."
A confidential Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) document obtained by The New York Times states, "As oil and gas development encroach on suburban and urban areas, human health and environmental impacts are expected to escalate."
The New York Times reports, "With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that are often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium." Alternet seconds these alarming facts, reporting that methane concentrations are 17 times higher in drinking-water wells found near fracking sites when compared to water wells away from sites.
To make matters worse, fracking can also cause earthquakes. High-pressure injection, which makes up the process of fracking, has been linked to small earthquakes in nearby areas, according to a report by the U.S. Geological Society. Even with these stats, though, Americans have a hard time deciding where they stand on the issue. A Gallup poll found that "40% of Americans say they favor the procedure, while 40% oppose it, and a substantial 19% do not have an opinion." However, there is a need to worry.
While America might be pushing towards an energy revolution, there should be more of a push to more sustainable and environmentally-friendly energy sources, like wind and solar power.
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