A question we must ask about fracking

Retired geologist LaceyMay 7, 2014 

Fracking is a relatively new oil field technology that many hope will make our country energy independent again. It is based upon hydraulic fracturing of the very extensive oil-shale formations existing throughout much of the United States.

The hydraulic fracking technique opens up many new fractures in this otherwise dense shale rock, thus making it more permeable and subject to larger yields of oil and natural gas. Sand is included in the drilling water during the fracking process in order to prop open the newly formed fractures after the release of hydraulic pump pressure.

If the procedure were stopped at this point, no contamination of ground water would occur since only fresh water and sand were being employed in the process. A successful fracking operation producing oil and/or natural gas would be possible at this stage.

The oil companies, however, have chosen to add a large number of chemicals to this drill-water-sand mix in order to further enhance petroleum production. Some of these chemical additives are suspected of seriously contaminating the overlying ground water and wells in various parts of the U.S.

The question we must ask is why it is necessary for this country to risk widespread contamination of our country’s fresh water aquifers in order to become energy independent when this same goal can probably be achieved absent any chemical contamination — albeit with some nominal reduction in yields of petroleum.

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