Hydraulic fracking of gas and oil wells in the northeast region of the United States is controversial, and it has the potential to create devastating and long lasting environmental damage and human health problems.
How this part of the country been affected by fracking
Industrial gas exploration including horizontal exploration using high-volume fracking, results in significant adverse effects. These effects are an outcome of activities like;
changes in usage of land road building water distributions inappropriate cementing covering of water wells over-pressurized water wells gas migration from new and unfinished water wells waste water treatment plants that have lost the ability to treat flow back and produce water;
subterranean injection of brine wastewater inappropriate sediment and erosion controls;
air compressor stations, and accidents and leaks
Recently, state authorities have discovered that gas exploration using high-volume gas fracturing has polluted drinking water, contaminated surface waters, contaminated air, and polluted soils. They discovered that inadequate well covering resulted in contamination of drinking water and the explosion of houses. State authorities discovered elevated levels of benzene and other toxics in communities with close by gas compressors. EPA has cautioned citizens not to drink the water, and hundreds of leaks have been reported as residents continue to investigate nearby health effects they feel are associated with gas exploration functions.
It is obvious that the gas market in the United States has historically assumed a critical part in the country’s economy and energy manufacturing systems. The industry started operating in 1821, in New York when the first well was drilled upstate — vertical drilling into a pool of gas. However, the lay of the area is quite different now from when traditional gas exploration first began. An increasing number of shale deposits are currently under development due to emerging technologies, and an increasing percentage of these improvements are in nonconventional shales, areas that typically, tapping them was too expensive or difficult. Hydraulic fracking is a technology that was first employed more than 50 years ago. Today, it is being used in an estimated 90% of gas and oil wells in the northeast region of the United States (Newton 56).
Considering that the oil and gas market should be currently on its best behavior, the market is always operating with impunity and lobby against government regulating management. Even as the effect of the Gulf disaster shows the true costs of deregulation, the market continues to cut corners at the cost of populations and workers within the northeast region of the United States. Nevertheless, the gas sector is expected to deliver its promise of offering clean energy at the least ecological effect. Instead of acknowledging risk and undeniable effects, spokespeople and executives demonize the opposition. Rather than full disclosure, there is secrecy along with unfulfilled promises of collaboration.
Damaging effects on the environment caused by fracking
Fracking is a process adopted in the extraction of oil and gas from previously inaccessible rock structures situated deep underground. The use of high volume gas fracturing has expanded dramatically across the nation. Fracking continues to unleash a frenzy of oil and gas exploration in several of these shale formations — posing severe threats to the environment. Fracking has polluted both groundwater and surface land waterways such as rivers, lakes, and streams. Pollution from Fracking enters waters at various points in the process like leaks and spills, well blowouts, methane and other pollutants escaping from the well bore into land water, and the long-term migration of underground pollutants. Handling of harmful fracking waste returning to the outer lining land after fracking a well introduces higher possibilities for contamination of drinking water (Hilyard 49).
Consumption of Scarce Water Resources: Each well that is fracked requires millions of gallons of water depending on the formation of the shale and the horizontal portion of the well. In most cases, fracking converts water that is clean into harmful wastewater, which is later disposed to the public. Besides, the process takes away the many gallons of water out of the domestic consumption. Moreover, the fracking process affect farmers because they must compete with the deep-pocketed oil and gas sector for water, especially in the drought-stricken regions of the country. Water withdrawals by exploration companies caused drinking boreholes in the region to dry up. Companies that drill in the water wells have drilled water wells and purchased well water, drying up water supplies for agricultural and residential use (Ferre & Thurman 57)
Competition for scarce water resources from fracking increases water prices for communities and farm owners. Excessive withdrawals of water challenge the ability of streams and rivers to support wildlife. Water has been harvested unlawfully for fracking numerous times, to the extent of sources being pulled dry. Two sources in southwestern; Cross Stream and Sugarcamp Run, were allegedly cleared for withdrawal of water for fracking, leading to killing of fish (Kutz & Ali 30).
Noise resulting from earth moving, excavation, plant, and vehicle transport during preparation of the site has a prospective effect on both citizens and regional wildlife, especially in delicate places. The site planning stage lasts up to four weeks but varies greatly from other comparable large-scale construction activities. Levels of noise vary during the different stages in the planning and production cycle. Well, exploration and the gas fracking procedure itself are the most significant sources of noise. Gas flaring can also be loud. For a single well, the period of the exploration stage will be quite short but will be ongoing 24 hours a day. The effect of noise on regional people and wildlife will be significantly higher where multiple water wells are drilled in a single pad, which continues over a five-month period. Disturbance during gas fracking also has the prospective to disturb and disrupt regional people and wild animals. Effective measures of noise abatement will closeness to places, or wildlife environments are a consideration. It is approximated that each well pad would require 800 to 2,500 days of loud action during pre-production, covering ground works and road development as well as the gas fracking procedure (Rom 43). These noise stages would need to be carefully managed to avoid risks to health for people.
How fracking has affected human health
Making Regional Citizens Sick- People residing close to fracking locations is subjected to a variety of air pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), notably benzene, toluene, and xylene. These substances can cause health problems like eye discomfort and complications to cancer and asthma. Current data illustrate that fracking functions are launching these contaminants into the air at stages that endanger human health. In Florida, tracking by the NEPA recognized benzene deposits known for causing cancer in the air. They were high enough to cause direct health issues at two locations in the area and at stages that cause long-term health issues in other locations. Several substances were also discovered to be ate levels that could cause nasty smells. Air tracking in Illinois has also discovered raised stages of VOC), some of which are also dangerous air pollutants — at the border of gas fracking locations (Roberts 81).
Effects of regional air contamination have also popped up in the area. Examination performed by the NEPA recognizes that locations continue to suffer from a frenzy of chronic and acute health issues, such as eye discomfort, headaches, nausea, and respiratory problems.
Workers at exploration locations also suffer from health effects. In fact, employees at some fracking locations could be subjected to the threat of lung disease resulting from inhalation of silica pollutants from sand directed into water wells. Fracturing liquid includes considerable amounts of water combined with sand and chemicals. In the northeast region of the United States, the chemicals used in the fracking liquid are considered trade secrets. If companies are not required to expose the full list of substances used, evaluating potential short- and long-term effects on public wellness will be difficult. Research shows that approximately 40 — 50% could affect the brain/nervous system, cardiovascular and immune systems, and the kidneys; 37% could affect the hormonal system, and 25% could cause mutations and cancer (McKinney, Michael, Robert & Logan 66). For instance, Nonylphenol, which is commonly used in the fracking liquid, imitates oestrogen and can cause the feminization of seafood, even at levels not recognized by normal tracking of the liquid. The consequence of the feminization of seafood is a discrepancy between male and female species, causing a lack of fertilizing and possibly leading to a fast decrease of these seafood communities.
How fracking has polluted the region
Air pollution: Fracking produces various contaminants that promote local air pollution problems. Fracking activities result in more release of greenhouse gases, smog-inducing substances and other dangerous air contaminants than traditional oil and gas activities. This air contamination comes from the generator and compressor exhausts at shale well sites, from heavy-duty vehicle traffic and the ventilation of wastewater storage space, and it can seriously break down air quality. This shows the important health and ecological effects when analyzing the full life cycle of shale gas, and these important effects eliminate some of the benefits that accrue from shale gas being a clean-burning non-renewable energy.
VOCs and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in gas structures promote the development of ozone “smog,” which decreases lung operations among healthy individuals, activates bronchial asthma attacks, and has been connected to improves in school absences, trips to medical centers and early deaths. Fracking is a significant resource of air contamination in areas experiencing considerable amounts of exploration. Oil and gas manufacturing was a larger resource of smog-forming contaminants than trucks and cars. Gas manufacturing is approximated to be responsible for 5,000 NOx tons. Pollution from fracking plays a role in such poor air quality that the region failed to live up to federal air quality requirements.
Global warming is a powerful risk to virtually every aspect of nature and human civilization — disrupting the operation of ecosystems, improving the violence and frequency of extreme weather, and ultimately risking health, food manufacturing, and water resources for People in America and across the planet. Gas drilling generates tremendous amounts of climatic change contamination. Fracking’s primary effect on the environment is through the discharge of methane, which is a far more effective contributor to climatic change than carbon dioxide. The climatic change effect of fracked organic gas is so great that power produced from organic gas may have a greater climatic change effect than the power from coal energy, especially when analyzed on a short-term.
It is evident that on a 20-year timescale, power from organic gas is more damaging than power from coal energy. Despite the fugitive levels of pollution from fracked gas, increased manufacturing of and dependency on gas is not a sound approach to reducing the global warming emissions. Investment strategies in gas manufacturing and distribution facilities redirect funding and initiatives away from truly fresh sources of power such as energy-efficiency and solar and wind power. Gas drilling does not prepare humans for a fresh energy in the future; rather, improving our use of gas changes our dependency from one damaging fuel to another. Additionally, at the level that it generates oil instead of gas, fracking does not reduce climatic change pollution: in fact, improving oil into useful items like diesel and gasoline energy, and then burning Shale gas consists mainly of methane, which is an effective greenhouse gas.
Confirmation from recent research studies attests that due to the amount of fugitive methane launched while contemporary shale gas activities, any improved use of shale gas instead of non-renewable energy may speed up global warming in the coming years and not decrease international warming effects. This is regardless of the lesser amount of carbon contamination produced when shale gas is burnt off. Vitally, this also represents that market shale gas would take demand for non-renewable energy, not supplement it; if such displacement does not happen, then the environmental impact would be far more intense (Lind 92). Therefore, it is misdirected for government authorities around the world to open up their nations to shale activities under the pretext of battling international global warming.
There are numerous ways that fracking and drilling pollutes public fresh water sources. First, even before fracking liquid substances are induced underground, they can be poured at the sites of boreholes or in traffic accidents, leading to local pollution. The substances used to make fracking liquids are far from safe. Researchers have found that 25% of fracking substances could cause cancer; 37% could affect the hormonal system; 40 to 50% could affect the nervous, immune and heart systems, and more than 75% could damage respiratory system and sensory organs (Levi 61). A second major process of pollution arises from the need to get rid of the several thousand gallons of fracking wastewater that moves to the outer lining land after each well is fracked. This wastewater contains not only the possibly harmful substances used in the fracking liquid, but also natural pollutants from deeper underground, such as total organic pollutants and dissolved solids.
Proposals to the government and by the government as far as techniques and safety measures that would make fracking safer
Fracking is resulting in extensive harm to the surroundings and public wellness in the northeast region of the United States. The region experiences air contamination, water pollution, interruption of habitats and water reduction caused by extensive fracking. Wherever fracking has happened, it has left its mark on the surroundings and the public health. Where fracking is already happening, the least the public should expect from the government is to reduce the health and environmental effects of unclean exploration as much as possible. This includes:
The government should close the gaps that exempt fracking from key regulations of federal environmental laws. Case in point, fracking wastewater that always contains radioactive components and cancer causing elements, is exempt from the country’s dangerous waste rules.
State and federal government authorities should protect valued open spaces and vital drinking water resources from the risks of fracking. In 2011, the Obama administration’s science advisory Board on fracking recommended the maintenance of unique and sensitive areas as off limits to exploration and support facilities. In keeping with this moderate guideline, unclean fracking should not be permitted near the national parks, nationwide forests or in watersheds that supply consumption water (Delaney & Tim 66).
Policymakers should bring to a halt worst practice. Fracking companies should no longer be permitted to use open waste pits to contain wastewater. The government should ban the use of toxic chemicals in fracking fluids. Operators should be required to meet competitive goals to reduce water use and to reuse wastewater. To guarantee the oil and gas operators, instead of taxpayers, carries the expenses of fracking harm, there must be collaboration between the northeast region of the United States and the Bureau of Land Management to demand robust financial guarantees from companies at every well site.
Remedies to some of the problems that hydraulic fracking presents are not only based on using better exploration methods, but are also relevant to enhancing ecological governance such as establishing guidelines for climate, environmental and health security. Such guidelines could include:
â€¢ guaranteeing full disclosure of products used in the fracking process and prohibiting ingredients known to be harmful;
â€¢ Applying enforcement and monitoring procedures
â€¢ Effective guidelines and sticking to industry best practices must be adhered to, particularly in the areas of well designing and cementing, to be able to separate the well from other strata, and especially from fresh water aquifers.
â€¢ Government authorities should also make sure that organizations secure enough resources for recovery of land and minimize any prospective effects on land and water, to prevent so-called “extract and take off” practices
The fast development of shale gas activities and fracking in northeast region of the United States has led to significant public health and environmental issues, and become a continuous environmental and public health experiment. Most of these issues however are manmade to the practice and can be prevented through the recommended policies, techniques, and safety measures that would make fracking safer.
Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press, 2010. Print.
Delaney, Tim, and Tim Madigan. Beyond Sustainability: A Thriving Environment., 2014. Print.
Ferrer, Imma, and EM. Thurman. Advanced Techniques in Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (gc-Ms-Ms and Gc-Tof-Ms) for Environmental Chemistry., 2013. Internet resource.
Hilyard, Joseph. The Oil & Gas Industry: A Nontechnical Guide. Tulsa, Okla: PennWell, 2012. Print.
Kutz, Myer, and Ali Elkamel. Environmentally Conscious Fossil Energy Production. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley, 2010. Print.
Lind, Michael. Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States. New York: Broadside Books, 2012. Print.
Levi, Michael A. Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America’s Future., 2013. Print.
McKinney, Michael L, Robert M. Schoch, and Logan Yonavjak. Environmental Science: Systems and Solutions. Boston: Jones and Barlett Publishers, 2012. Print.
Roberts, Paul. The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 2005. Print.
Rom, William N. Environmental Policy and Public Health: Air Pollution, Global Climate Change, and Wilderness. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass, 2012. Print.
Newton, David E. World Energy Crisis: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2013. Print.
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