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Fracking: is it as bad as they say it is Fracking: is it as bad as they say it is

The controversial drilling technique has been given a lot of bad press lately by being accused of irremediably polluting the air, water, and soil while exposing nearby communities to dangerous levels of toxic fumes, pollutants, and even earthquakes.

Countless lawmakers and local authorities swear that the public’s concern about fracking is greatly exaggerated, with opponents being dismissed as pesky tree-huggers or crazy Luddites. But evidence about the technology’s ill effects on the environment and human health is mounting. So, is fracking’s bad rap justified?

What Is Fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing, in short fracking, is an advanced drilling technique used to extract oil and natural oil from deep beneath Earth’s surface. The drilling method’s name comes from the fact that the industry uses a cocktail of pressurized water (hydr- is a Greek prefix that means “water”) and toxic chemicals to fracture underground rock formations in order to access the natural gas and oil pockets that may lie within those rocky layers.

Fracking supporters claim that the technique is so effective that it has done more to tap otherwise unrecoverable underground reserves of oil and gas than any other method. They also claim that the benefits significantly outweigh the risks since fracking has boosted domestic energy production, led to lower energy prices, and contributed to America’s recent energy independence. Big energy even goes as far as to call natural gas a cleaner and “renewable” source of energy, unlike coal.

Also Read: Be Kind to the Earth: How to Be More Environmentally Friendly

What Are Opponents Saying?

Fracking opponents may be silenced by Big Oil, but they do have a valid point backed by years’ worth of grim evidence. Their main concerns about fracking revolve around water waste, toxicity, pollution, health risks, and irreversible damage to the environment and rural landscape.

Concern no. 1: Water waste

From 2005 to 2013, 250 billion gallons of water were used in fracking operations nationwide. The chief problem here is that the water used in fracking does not get naturally reabsorbed in the ground to return to the natural water cycle.

The water is turned into wastewater, which means that billions of gallons of clean water are removed from the planet’s already scarce water supply every year. Local farmers and communities are the most affected since they must compete with Big Oil for clean water.

Concern no. 2: Toxicity

Fracking is not only wasteful when it comes to drinking water, but it also uses extremely toxic chemicals. That contaminate the groundwater and the soil for many years to come. Many of these toxins can up the risk of cancer and other health issues.

Also, the released methane may leak into the water supply leading to the so-called “flammable water.” There are countless stories of poisoned private wells and flammable water coming out of home faucets. Well, blowouts are also responsible for contaminated groundwater.

What is fracking

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Concern no. 3: Pollution

Fracking does not only pollute the water supply, but it affects the soil and air as well. Air pollution from fracking wells is so intense that it creates the so-called ozone smog. Which has been linked to a high risk of respiratory disease, asthma attacks also. And even early death in people who live or work nearby fracking sites.

Many other pollutants (accidentally) released into the air and soil are linked. At to certain types of cancers and other adverse health issues.

Concern no. 4: Health risks

Fracking uses more than 1,000 chemicals, of which dozens are harmful to human health. Communities nearby fracking operations usually see their risk of allergies, asthma, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, arsenic poisoning, childhood leukemia, and birth defects skyrocket.

But these incidents are sometimes swept under the rug by the gas and oil industry by agreeing to multi-million-dollar settlements with injured locals for the adverse health impacts not to reach the press. However, the money granted is rarely enough to cover all the medical expenses, property loss, and relocation costs. Yet, people do settle for less because of poverty.

Concern no. 5:  Irreversible damage to the environment and rural landscape

Fracking may irreversibly damage the landscape turning once-fertile public land into barren wastelands for hundreds of years to come. Between 2005 and 2013, 360,000 acres of land were turned into fracking operation sites. That with farmland, wildlife habitats, national forests, and local economies decreasing to dust.

Fracking may also cause earthquakes. That with the largest known fracking-related quake as reported in Mexico (M4 magnitude).

But the USGS warned a few years back that fracking operations may cause earthquakes of up to 5.5-magnitude. That means that such quakes might cause significant changes in the landscape.

Related: Ways to Help the Environment in Your Community This Summer

Conclusion

If we take into account fracking’s negative impact on the environment, local economies, and communities, we with wondering over who on Earth approved the technology and for what purpose besides dirty profit. Fighting Big Oil, however, looks like a rehashed David versus Goliath story in a modern-day setting.

So, if you think fracking operations have harmed you, your family, your property, local businesses, or community, do hire an experienced environmental hazard attorney. A legal professional will know the best way to beat oil and gas behemoths at their own game. Also, make them compensate you royally for your injuries and loss.

Featured Image credits: flickr.com

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