Essay Hydraulic Fracturing

3426 Words Jun 29th, 2013 14 Pages
The Split Personality of Hydraulic Fracturing

There is wide agreement among most experts and the public that the current energy sources we use in the United States are in need of a replacement. Reliance on the fossil fuels of coal and oil are problematic for at least two reasons: their negative impact on the environment (both in extraction and their use) and the reliance on supplies of these from other countries, which has created problems on the geopolitical front. Nuclear fission remains a controversial alternative, considering the risks involved in a catastrophic meltdown and the lack of a long-term waste storage solution. The successful development of horizontal drilling by the energy industry coupled with the existing technology of
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The sudden accessibility of this abundant and cleaner energy source was hailed as a eureka moment by government officials, the scientific establishment, environmental groups, and the energy industry that would solve several problems at once. But this was not the complete picture.
The last component of this practice to be addressed is the most significant. While there is no controversy regarding the relative cleanliness of natural gas, and the process of horizontal drilling on its own doesn’t pose any significant risks, it’s the drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, which has been raised as the specter of this industry. So what is hydraulic fracturing? It is the method by which millions of gallons of water, mixed with and sand and assorted chemicals (hydraulic) are injected into drill sites at high speeds with the intent of cracking open the rock (fracturing) and releasing the natural gas inside. This released gas is then captured for delivery to the energy production infrastructure for use in everything from megawatt generating stations to your home heater. The well, which may run thousands of feet below the surface and a few miles across, is backfilled to prevent instability. Since Halliburton pioneered the practice n the 1940’s (Marsa), the technique has been refined many times over but the basics remain

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