The Fracking Debate: What It’s All About

Fracking has become a heated debate throughout the country, with pro-fracking individuals saying the practice has developed a bad reputation due to bad PR from the natural gas industry and a misunderstanding of what it really is. It has become a big concern in the state of Colorado as well, mainly because a proposed amendment to Colorado’s constitution that would give municipalities the power to ban or restrict fracking would be the first of its kind nationwide if passed.

By definition, fracking uses water, sand and chemicals to unlock oil and natural gas reserves from underground rock formations. It involves pumping millions of gallons of water containing sand and chemicals at high pressures to release oil and natural gas from dense shale formations. This technology has helped the U.S. production of oil and natural gases, however some environmental/local groups have raised concerns that this technology is harming public health and the environment as a whole (contamination of groundwater, reducing air quality, etc.).

Both sides are not just sitting on this issue, however. Several research studies have been published in the past few years, and grants have been issued to perform more research on the affects of fracking on water supplies. For instance, the National Science Foundation awarded $12 million to a team led by a CU-Boulder engineering professor to better study the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. Also, a study from Univeristy of Missouri Columbia and the U.S. Geological Survey collected water samples from Colorado compared to Missouri water and suggested that natural-gas drilling operations that employed hydraulic fracturing in Colorado may lead to elevated endocrine, thus disrupting chemical activity in nearby groundwater. Exposure to these kinds of chemicals can lead to decreased fertility, increased cancer cases and impaired reproductive health. The Colorado Oil & Gas Association is arguing that these results are a bit skewed because Missouri has a different geology, topography and overall environment – therefore comparing the water samples isn’t exactly accurate.

Organizations on both sides of the debate are trying to educate citizens in the U.S. about what exactly fracking is and the pros and cons of the process. Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED), which is backed by two of the state’s largest oil and gas companies, launched a new website called StudyFracking.com, which was created to help residents of Colorado have their most important questions about fracking answered. The website was also created because CRED thought false rumors had negatively skewed Coloradans’ opinion about fracking and they wanted factual information to be easily accessible. On the other side, MoveOn, a liberal advocacy group, granted money to anti-fracking activists, six in Colorado alone. Their goal is to slow down the future fracking boom that is anticipated to occur across the US this year, and also gain followers and try to educate people on why fracking is dangerous.

Whether you’re pro-fracking or anti-fracking, there is an abundant amount of research and information available online to help you form an opinion. We at Environmental Logistics urge you to educate yourself on the issue and make your own informed decision about where you stand regarding fracking in the United States.

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photo from USA Today http://usat.ly/LxpD8b

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