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Can Hydraulic Fracturing Be Done Safely?

2011/08/02

Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) is a controversial way of accessing natural gas that is trapped in rock, deep underground.  It is controversial because there have been reports of a variety of environmental problems associated with the technique: consumption and contamination of very large quantities of water, release of that toxic water into the environment, contamination of aquifers and the release of large quantities of methane (which could make its impact on climate change greater than any other fossil fuel).

The government of France has deemed it too dangerous and has banned fracking.  However, here in North America, it is moving ahead with little to no regulation protecting our air, water and soil.

So.  Is fracking a safe source of inexpensive energy to be exploited, an environmental hazard to be avoided or a combination of both?  To get different points of view, please follow the link below to a forum created by the website Yale Environment 360.  The participants of the forum are asked whether they believe fracking can be done safely, and whether there is a need for further regulation of the practice.

Forum: Just How Safe Is “Fracking” Of Natural Gas?

 

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. 2011/08/07 11:40 pm

    I find fracking a really scary process. Most of the chemicals used (and I believe there are at least 200) have not been tested at all in terms of their impacts on human and environmental health. We’re having the same problem in Australia at the moment – they’re actually looking at mining coal seam gas in an area about 5km from the centre of Sydney.

    The power and political clout of mining companies is worrying.

    • 2011/08/08 4:59 am

      For me, the craziest part of fracking is how it affects water. Not only does the process use very large quantities of water, but it’s been shown to affect people’s ground water by “cracking” into the aquifers.
      Combine that with the Alberta Tar Sands (which renders toxic 3 barrels of fresh water for every barrel of oil produced) and we in Canada aren’t being very nice to our water.

  2. 2011/08/08 4:58 am

    For me, the craziest part of fracking is how it affects water. Not only does the process use very large quantities of water, but it’s been shown to affect people’s ground water by “cracking” into the aquifers.
    Combine that with the Alberta Tar Sands (which renders toxic 3 barrels of fresh water for every barrel of oil produced) and we in Canada aren’t being very nice to our water.

  3. 2012/05/23 8:11 am

    Your forum link makes for interesting reading, especially the comments, of which the following one leapt out at me:

    “When the bite of fossil-fuel depletion is felt in earnest, the efforts to extract the remaining deposits will run roughshod over any environmental concerns. ”

    • 2012/05/23 8:17 am

      I had to go back and see which post that was : )

      The comment you highlighted is an interesting one. And I think that we are already seeing it happening now. The greatest example, in my opinion, is the Alberta Tar Sands. If that project is considered environmentally responsible, we are in serious trouble.

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