For fracking gas or oil from wellss, large amounts of sand, water and chemicals are pumped into the earth at very high pressure owing to which the solid rocks beneath the upper layer of earth are broken down and the oil or gas flows out. Some of the chemicals used during this process are extremely hazardous to human and environmental health and are known to pollute both water we drink and the air we breathe. Although, until now no law has been passed that can impose ban on use of such chemicals, governments of different countries are looking into the harmful effects of these chemicals and in the near future, disclosure of chemicals used during fracking is expected to become mandatory. As of now disclosing the chemicals being used in fracking is not required by the companies that operate fracking in releasing natural gas.
Why should fracking be banned?
There are multiple reasons why fracking should be banned. Some of them are listed below:
Farmers and the agricultural crops are greatly affected by fracking as the well water gets contaminated due to seeping of chemicals in to the ground water. Thisis the case in those farms which have given access to contractors for extracting gas.
Crops and timber loss is a common problem faced by the farmers as the trees and plants do not grow fully due to the deterioration on water quality owing to the various chemicals that get added to the ground.
Poultry and dairy farming is also affected in huge amount as contaminated water can cause health problems in cows, goats and hens. The Louisiana state recently reported casualties in several cows due to contamination caused by fracking.
Usually the chemicals are used in massive amounts during fracking and are loaded and transported to sites in trucks. Hence it is difficult to restrict the leakage of these chemicals and they find their way into the atmosphere and environment thereby polluting air and water.
Most of the oil and gas industrial officials are reluctant to disclose the amount and type of chemicals used during fracking. There are some chemicals which the company officials cannot identify but are regularly used for fracking. They aren't required to disclose the chemicals which is very disturbing as we don't know what chemcials are causing the bad effects.
In some areas, fracking has been known to cause tremors leading to disruption of life for short time. Although such incidences are rare and can be handled, people are now reluctant to buy homes in areas that are close to fracking sites. This has led to drop in in property values in these areas.
The chances of polluting aquifers during fracking increases. It needs a skilled person to handle all the chemicals well. But one small mistake can lead to the chemicals getting mixed with the underground water causing both short term and long term effects on the life immediately around the leakage and sometiems could be carried to distant places as well.
Methane is prominently used during fracking and is a bad greenhouse gas. At times when the capping of wells is not done properly, this gas is vented out and can cause several environmental hazards. Although rare, such mistakes have happened before and cannot be neglected.
In places such as North Carolina, the water tables are very close to the oil wells and the risk of contamination through leakage is huge.
What can go against banning of fracking?
The current options we have in extracting oil and natural gas are very few. We have yet to come up with better options in extracting them. Solar energy was expected to peak up in couple of years as a good form of renewable and sustainable energy resource, but it is yet to be fully developed as a zero carbon alternative. The other renewable energies are costlier and natural gas is very cheap. The economy of the world depends a lot on oil and gas and the countries with huge supply of oil and gas cannot let go of their revenue so easily. Recent evidences have already unleashed that the acidification process of oceans have become more fast in the past couple of years than ever, but the renewable resources that were expected to supply enough energy to run the whole world are still looming at the horizons and the wait can be lengthened to another 4 to 8 years. In the wake of all these situations it would be difficult to immediately ban fracking and stop the extraction of natural gas. Instead measures can be taken to restrict the use of hazardous chemicals during the process and precautionay measure so as to avoid seepage into the ground water and release into the atmosphere which can limit the damaging effects of fracking.