The increasing demand for energy has led to increased research on new, sustainable, and environmentally friendly energy sources. With this intention, there has been increased exploration in the natural gas production. Hydraulic fracturing is among the simulation methods involved in extracting natural gas. It involves creating additional permeability by creating cracks or expanding already existing cracks on rocks to allow easier gas flow (Gregory, Vidic, & Dzombak, 2011). Currently, hydraulic fracturing is not being used in my area. However, due to the increased demands in energy supply, there are efforts and research carried out to introduce hydraulic fracturing in the future.
Hydraulic fracturing has led to the emergence of several concerns regarding the environmental and public health effects that results from it. This method of simulation has pros and cons to the environment and the general public. Hydraulic fracturing provides better and quality air in the environment. The burning of fuels that produce high levels of carbon dioxide pollutes the air and the environment in general (Sovacool, 2014). The natural gas is an alternative to help reduce pollution since the amount of carbon dioxide produced is minimal. Similarly, this simulation method allows access to more oil and gas (Crystal Lombardo – Chief Editor, 2016). This, therefore, increases the energy production rate, which allows us to meet the energy demands. By providing access to more oil and gas, it lowers the taxes paid. The government reduces the resources used in the importation of oil and gas. Reduction of importation reduces the dependence on other countries as well as cost on the citizens (Sovacool, 2014). Additionally, hydraulic fracturing promotes local employment, which is achieved when the ongoing project outsources labor from local community members. This also grows and expands the economic state of the area.
Nevertheless, hydraulic fracturing also has cons that negatively affect the environment. This simulation method is designed for specific conditions of the target (Spellman, 2012). For this simulation to work, it requires thousands of cubic meters of water. The challenges that accompany this is how to maintain natural resources like water. In case this is not maintained, it might result in drying up the water source, leading to drought in the area. Nonetheless, hydraulic fracturing comes with a lot of noise that may cause disruption and noise pollution in the area (Spellman, 2012). Correspondingly, in the natural gas extraction, water containing a lot of dissolved minerals is released to the surface. This water is known as flow backs and is highly concentrated with minerals, salts, and gases. This water, if not controlled, might contaminate ground and surface water, leading to environmental hazards. The production companies have tried to develop ways to treat this water before releasing it to the public. Some of these methods are deep underground injection, reverse osmosis, releasing it to publicly owned treatment works, as well as thermal distillation (Spellman, 2012). However, the effort to treat the water are extremely expensive, creating unfavorable economics for the companies. Moreover, if the water is released to the environment without treatment, it leads to the spread of toxins, which are health hazards to the public.
Based on the above findings, I would suggest the use of hydraulic fracturing in my area to meet the high energy demands and curb the cost incurred to import and produce the energy. However, I would also advise the companies involved in the fracturing process to device ways to control the flow backs. They should also ensure the natural source of water is not exploited by using other sources of water like recycling the flow backs (Gregory, Vidic, & Dzombak, 2011).
- Crystal Lombardo – Chief Editor. (2016, 8). 10 Chief Pros and Cons of Hydraulic Fracturing. Retrieved from https://greengarageblog.org/10-chief-pros-and-cons-of-hydraulic-fracturing
- Gregory, K. B., Vidic, R. D., & Dzombak, D. A. (2011). Water Management Challenges Associated with the Production of Shale Gas by Hydraulic Fracturing. Elements, 7(3), 181-186. doi:10.2113/gselements.7.3.181
- Sovacool, B. K. (2014). Cornucopia or curse? Reviewing the costs and benefits of shale gas hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 37, 249-264. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2014.04.068
- Spellman, F. R. (2012). Environmental Considerations. In Environmental Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing (1st ed., pp. 147-159). Florida: CRC Press.