Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the current method of extracting natural gas and oil out of the shale deep in the ground. Natural gas is used by 60% of Americans to heat our homes, and oil is used for all our transportation needs, whether cars, trucks, planes, etc., along with all the plastic products and many others that are made with oil.
Fracking consists of injecting wells, which are on average 4-5,000 feet deep, with 1-8 million gallons of water that contain 100s of toxic chemicals, along with sand, at high pressure to break up shale and release natural gas and oil. Close to half of the U.S. is frackable.
That may sound like a sound way of extracting oil and natural gas but it has many problems. First of all, it is not well regulated. Next, there is no way to control all the places that water, which is filled with toxic chemicals, goes. Most frackers are required to build cement barriers between their frack wells and the surrounding ground, but contaminated water does find its way through and around these barriers. It finds its way into other water tables and aquifers and makes its way into the wells of people that live in the area. These people are getting sick, along with their animals and wildlife, from this toxic water and many times have to have water brought in. The water also finds its way into rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, and streams.
Almost half of the water comes out of the well and is stored in holding ponds that may or may not have liners. In some cases it is eventually hauled away to a toxic waste facility to try to treat the water, but in many cases they have deemed it too expensive to treat the water.
Reports of completely poisoned water near fracking wells are not uncommon. The poisoned water often gets into the water tables of the surrounding countryside.
Methane, which is the most concentrated of greenhouse gases, leaks out of the holding tanks that the natural gas is stored in and into the atmosphere. Workers are exposed to both the methane and the toxic chemicals that are injected into the water. The sand that is used is silica sand. It only takes a very small amount of this sand entering a personís lungs to be toxic and get silicosis.
To make it even worse, their is a level of naturally occurring radiation in those shale deposits that is being extracted and brought to the surface. This is increasing the level of hazardous radiation around Fracking sites.
Fracking has also increased the number of earthquakes in the areas being fracked. We are seeing a much greater incidence of earthquakes in Texas and Oklahoma for example since the Fracking started in those areas. Once the Earth has been made less solid and the earthquakes start, there is no telling how to make the Earth more solid again and to make the earthquakes stop.
Silica sand mines are created to extract silica sand which is used in the fracking process. The silica sand is a carcinogen and can cause silicosis and creates great health risks for people in the area of these mines, where silica sand is known to blow over onto surrounding properties.
The bottom line is that fracking cannot be done safely and produces many greenhouse gases and must be stopped.