Environmental Benefits Of Fracking

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According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a “well stimulation process used to maximize the extraction of underground resources.” The resource most commonly extracted using hydraulic fracturing is natural gas. The practice of hydraulic fracturing is highly controversial as proponents and opponents debate its environmental benefits and costs. To begin, the use of hydraulic fracturing has greatly increased in the twenty-first century. The first hydraulic fracturing experiment was conducted by the Stanolind Oil and Gas Corporation, but the experiment was unsuccessful. The Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company in 1949 carried out the first commercial hydraulic fracturing project (Hyder …show more content…
It became commercially practicable to extract natural gas from shale when Mitchell Energy developed a technique known as slickwater fracturing. The process of slickwater fracturing begins by drilling a vertical well to the natural gas layer. Next, they drill up to 10,000 feet horizontally. Finally, a water and chemical mixture is pumped into the wellbore. One of the chemicals used in slickwater fracturing is polyacrylamide. Polyacrylamide is used to reduce the friction, so the liquid can be pumped faster. Without polyacrylamide, the fracking fluid can be pumped at sixty barrels per minute compared to one hundred barrels per minute with polyacrylamide. The increased pumping rate allows for microfractures to be created in the shale. Other chemicals used in slickwater fracturing are butanol, monobutyl ether, hydrochloric acid and ethylene glycol. Also up to five million gallons of water are used per operation (Hyder and Lerner 2250). By 2010, approximately sixty percent of new oil and natural gas wells use hydraulic fracturing (“Fracking” 1004). Today, about ninety percent of natural gas wells are fracked in the United States (Briggle 282). The …show more content…
Hydraulic fracturing is leading to the leaking of methane and volatile organic compounds. The danger of methane gas being leaked into the environment is that methane gas displaces oxygen in the atmosphere making it harder to breathe, and volatile organic compounds are extremely hazardous since they are known to cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, nausea, headaches, and damage to the kidney, liver, and the central nervous system. A study in 2013 in the Geophysical Research Letters found that 55,000 kilograms of methane are leaked into the atmosphere per hour in the Uinta Basin (Kille). Some researchers have argued that the release of methane into the atmosphere wipes out any of the benefits natural gas has over coal (Wihbey). In the Denver Basin, approximately seventy percent of volatile organic compound emissions are a result of condensate tanks according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (Kille). Condensate tanks are used to separate the natural gas from the fracking fluid. Natural gas is not clean burning; therefore, all the possible benefits are just relative. As a matter of fact, natural gas from hydraulic fracturing may be slowing down the transition to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal (Wihbey). According to the opponents of hydraulic fracturing, fracking is lowering the air

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