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Fracking Part 2: Earthquakes, Air Pollution, and Conclusion

In Fracking Part 1, I gave a background on hydraulic fracturing and I explained how it contaminates local aquifers. Today I will analyze some of the other side effects of fracking and I will explain that natural gas is not even a very clean energy source. 

Hydraulic fracturing has caused many earthquakes in the areas surrounding the wells. To crack the shale rock formation so the natural gas can flow out, the fracking fluid is pumped down the well extremely fast. This causes an earthquake with a magnitude smaller than one. Even though this earthquake is small, it breaks the natural seismic balance of the surrounding area, causing more, larger earthquakes nearby. Oklahoma, a big fracking state, has had a surge in earthquakes since 2009 and even had more earthquakes than California from 2014 to 2017. Not only are there small, frequent earthquakes caused by fracking, but there are also some larger ones, including a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Oklahoma in 2011. The number of earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater has jumped from 5 a year to around 40 because of fracking. In Los Angeles in 2012, fracking-related earthquakes were triggering some veterans’ PTSD. These earthquakes can be prevented if states stop fracking and address the issue at hand.

Natural gas was originally excavated because it was thought to be a very clean energy source, and there was lots of it. Most people thought that it was much better for the planet than coal because it had half as much carbon dioxide. It was later discovered that there is also methane in natural gas, which is even worse for the environment than carbon dioxide. This amplifies the greenhouse effect and makes natural gas even worse than coal. 

While the rate of fracking has gone down recently and the public is becoming more and more opposed to it, it is still a huge issue. We need to move to green, renewable energy like solar. If we put our time and money into solar, we can power our world without any horrible side effects. We need to move on from dirty fossil fuels and make our energy green and clean.

This is an aerial shot of a fracking field. Each little barren patch has a well.

Photo Credit: NYTimes

I highly recommend watching Gasland and Gasland 2, which are great documentaries about fracking. You should also watch this video:

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