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Fracking: Short-term Benefits, Long-term Catastrophe

Hydro-fracking is currently being proposed for NY State. While there are certainly some pros, the fact that the possible dangers are irreversable outweigh any benefits.

With the current possibility of New York State being opened to fracking, the debate about whether the benefits outweigh the risks is a hot topic. There are extremes on both sides, with some people claiming that there are no benefits to fracking, and others claiming there are no adverse effects from fracking. The truth is, fracking has both benefits and detriments. The problem is that, while the benefits are certainly instant gratification, the long-term impacts are often catastrophic.

First and foremost, the greatest benefit of fracking is that it will immediately provide jobs. What is often overlooked, however, is how many jobs it will undoubtedly destroy in the long run. Fracking consumes huge amounts of drinking water and uses toxic chemicals. When spills occur (which is inevitable in any man-made operation), those toxic chemicals are released into the environment, right into the path of drinking water sources. Aside from the hazardous chemicals used in the process, fracking also releases naturally occurring deposits of dangerous substances, including radioactive materials, found in high levels in the Marcellus Shale where the NY fracking would take place. There will be many sites flunking their radon tests if fracking is allowed in New York.

Such chemicals have ended up in the water sources at hundreds of places in New Mexico and Colorado, which has suffered over three-hundred spills of chemically contaminated fracking waste water. In Pavilion, Wyoming, the EPA found high levels of cancer-causing substances that are often used in fracking, in the water supply of over forty homes. Residents in this city have also contracted a number of neurological ailments from exposure to these chemicals. The residents of this city had fresh clean water until the fracking began, at which point their water began to turn black as well as smelling and tasting like gas.

Perhaps the most alarming fact is that fracking is exempt from the Clean Water Act of 2005. Fracking companies are exempt from disclosing what toxic chemicals they use in the process. In short, they can pump what whatever toxins they want into the drinking water, reap the profits from the gas produced, and be long gone while the residents are left to deal with the aftereffects.

Due to these ecological impacts, people who will be adversely affected include, but are not limited to, farmers whose livelihood depends greatly upon water availability. Waiters, cooks, and others in the restaurant industry when tourism rates fall due to polluted water sources. Hotels workers for the same reason. People involved in real estate will be affected, as banks know the impacts of fracking and are reluctant to loan to those in the vicinity of fracking wells. Not to mention the fact that property values plummet in the wake of fracking fallout due to contamination.

Gas is not a gift that keeps on giving. With our current rate of consumption, it is something that will inevitably run out. Therefore it is ludicrous to destroy so many lives for a few extra years worth of what is ultimately a finite resource. The ones who profit are the ones who will be least affected by the aftermath of fracking; the gas companies. The rest of us pay for the gas companies’ greed.

People often tout fracking as a way of gaining energy independence. This is a misleading claim, however. Fracking produces natural gas, a liquid that is used largely for home heating. America’s larger energy consumption, however, is petroleum. This oil is used in everything from cosmetics to plastics to medications and of course is the gasoline that fuels American automobiles. In fact America consumes more oil than any other country in the world. The oil for this country’s guzzling appetite is fueled largely by other countries such as the Middle East which hold the largest deposits of oil. No amount of fracking will change that, and therefore will never lead to energy independence.

The natural gas produced by fracking is claimed by supporters to be a “cleaner” energy source, and while it is cleaner than oil (most of which doesn’t come from this country anyway), it actually leaks more emissions than coal. Robert Howarth, a professor at Cornell University conducted a study on the emissions produced by natural gas and found that “Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20 percent greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years.”

Additionally, hydrofracking has been found to cause earthquakes, just one more way fracking will harm people and their properties. Cuadrilla Resources, a British hydrofracking company actually admitted that their fracking well did cause multiple, minor earthquakes. Unlike seismic events on the west coast, where the damage is generally more localized, quakes on the east coast are often felt throughout an area ten times larger than the west coast, due to the fact that the east coast ground is colder and more intact. East coast quakes are often felt throughout several states, making the damage area more widespread. Also the locations of many fault lines on the east coast are unknown, making it all the more difficult for fracking companies to avoid. Just one more reason to keep fracking out of New York.

In the end, I think there’s one phrase that sums up the situation. Don’t frack with my water supply! Don’t frack with New York!

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User Comments
  1. Ruby Hawk

    On November 25, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    We should absolutely protect our water supply at all cost. Nothing is more important.

  2. Yvhes P.

    On December 11, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Very good share. Thanks for this.

  3. Magic Quill

    On December 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I would like to see an introduction to what fracking is at the beginning.

  4. Davide Occello

    On December 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    “Don’t frack with my water supply! Don’t frack with New York!”

    Yeah! I totally agree!

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