Revaluating hydraulic fracturing is an ongoing experience, while learning about it and comparing articles on the topic matter have shown me. Before, I gathered material on how bad for the environment hydraulic fracturing was, comparatively I brought up the question of analyzing shale gas to its counterpart coal or as I put it; another natural gas. This question lead me to two articles that addressed the two points previously stated, meanwhile touched on the positive consequences fracking can be for the environment on a global scale, and proposed the topic of the economic benefits of shale gas drilling.
Before considering the positive consequences of fracking it is important to note the negative consequences of fracking. Congress passed a law in 2005 that’s commonly known as the “Halliburton loophole” which exempts the gas companies from federal regulations involving disclosure and monitoring of shale gas chemicals. Hydraulic fracturing cocktails include detergents, acids, and poisons that are not regulated by the United States federal law and can be a major problem if it seeps into drinking water and or soil. Accidents in hydraulic fracturing regions include storage and trucking spills of fracking fluids and brines, leading to contaminated water and soil that handlers had to clean up. From these finding it is apparent that there are still factors to not overlook and it may have changed since 2005 as it has been 10 years down the line.
Adversely on the other side of the coin there may be a light at the end of the tunnel by the shale gas drilling method. In one study of private wells amounting to 200 wells in a fracking region in Pennsylvania, only one well had different water quality after being drilled. This geological formation in Pennsylvania called Marcellus shale may contain 500 trillion cubic feet of gas, which could be enough to power all homes in America for 50 years at recent rates of residential use. Nationally speaking if that is one state that can amount for all of that energy, imagine if more followed in its footsteps.
Evidently, the natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing does cause green house gases to be released into the atmosphere via leakage and carbon dioxide released while burning, but when compared to coal, fracking has a substantial environmental advantage. Shale gas emits half the carbon dioxide its natural gas beneficiary coal does, and coal burning also emits mercury into our atmosphere that full circles into our water and soil once more.
National economics has plenty to gain from fracking and economic interests have already seen some short term benefits. Natural gas prices fell due to hydraulic fracturing, also creating jobs in the process in the gas industry and indirectly as with low energy costs national and regional economies can benefit.
Yet the reliance of the natural gas of coal seems to increase worldwide, while shale gas the more environmental friendly one seems to be the one that many are protesting and banning. But if shale gas displaces efforts to develop cleaner energy sources without reducing dependence on coal, the world could face more rapid climate change globally shall be manifested.