States banning “fracking” due to adverse health and environmental effects

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By Josh Dunn Contributing Writer On Tuesday, April 4, the governor of Maryland signed a bill banning hydraulic fracturing. New York State banned drilling in 2012, but many New Yorkers believe the ban should be reversed due to the economic growth that in-state energy production generates. Hydraulic fracturing or in short terms “fracking” is a process used to extract natural gas from underground shale and other compact rock formations. A vertical hole is drilled over a mile beneath the surface and then a hole is drilled for several thousand feet horizontally. Fracturing fluid is pumped through the well at a large enough rate to form gaps in the rock of the horizontal hole. New York has immense natural gas production potential due to a rock layer that is very rich in natural gas. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, the natural gas in the shale could supply the U.S. with energy for hundreds of years. It would allow the U.S. to be less reliant on oil and gas from other areas of the world and would spur economic growth. Natural gas production is on the rise in the U.S. and currently, 28 percent of oil produced by the U.S. is natural gas. The increase in natural gas production has strengthened the economy and created many jobs. A study conducted by the Manhattan Institute showed that each well produces around $4 million in economic opportunities. A similar study by Timothy J. Considine revealed that increased access to the natural gas in the Marcellus Shale could create 280,000 jobs and produce $6 billion in government revenue. The Department of Environmental Conservation could not find any alternatives of “fracking” to reduce the impacts it has on public health and the environment and acknowledged that there is substantial uncertainty of these impacts. Companies typically do not disclose the composition of their unique fracturing fluid, as it is considered a trade secret; however, environmental groups are becoming increasingly concerned about the impacts the additives have on the environment and society. Many of the chemicals included are either carcinogenic or correlated with health problems. There are major health concerns regarding clean drinking water if waste fluid leaks into the environment at any point during the “fracking” process. Fracturing fluid waste is stored in tanks and trucked off the site to be properly handled. However, these tanks are known to leak and spill on site and during transportation. Also, cracks in the well piping can allow natural gas and fracturing fluid to escape. “Fracking” releases toxic chemicals, and depletes local water resources due to the considerable amount of water that it requires. It is very costly to truck water in from other areas, so “fracking” industries take water from local streams and aquifers. The impacts that “fracking” has on the environment might not be a concern to some people, however many people that live in rural areas depend on the cleanliness and availability of local water resources.

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