Some of the largest known reserves of natural gas are located in the United States; our country alone has an estimated 2,400 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas. Fracking, the process of injecting gallons of water, sand and chemicals underground at a great pressure in order to extract gas and oil from shale rock formations, allows companies to obtain hard-to-reach resources.
If fracking continues, it will provide over half the energy supply of the U.S. in only 2 years. Proponents of hydraulic fracturing also argue that natural gas could replace coal and oil as the major energy source worldwide, subsequently reducing CO2 emissions by more than 50 percent. The continuance of fracking could mean independence from foreign energy sources and, consequently, a decrease in energy costs.
Among the consequences of hydraulic fracturing are contaminations of groundwater, the release of methane – a gas 20 times as potent as CO2 – and the induction of earthquakes. In 2009, Oklahoma – a state that averages 50 earthquakes per year – experienced over 1,000 earthquakes which have been linked to fracking. Tap water associated with fracking has actually caught fire.
Some argue that the public has been poorly informed about the fracking process, leading to exaggerated concerns about the effects — for example, straightforward mining causing a number of earthquakes over time.
T. Boone Pickens, the chair of the BP Capital Management hedge fund, claims that despite having “worked on over 2,000 fracking wells,” he has “seen no environmental issues as a result.”