Everywhere people are getting ready for summer, for barbeques and barefoot kids running through the grass, for trips to the coast and fun in water. However, for the communities affected by hydraulic fracturing, their summer looks bleaker. They will be up all night listening to the constant hum of giant compressors and drinking from Water Baffaloes, white containers filled with clean water from the gas companies, because their wells have become contaminated.
Fracking is a serious issue that needs to be more regulated. Companies using hydraulic fracturing have been given the okay by our government to pump harmful mixtures of chemicals and water, fracking fluid, into the ground, and, under the Halliburton Loophole, they do not have to conform to the safe water act.
Some people may be thinking that there is no proof that hydraulic fracturing does contaminate water, so there is no real reason to stop using this technology. Well, let’s not even mention the people living near fracking sites who have gotten ill, as documented in the short film Gasland, no let’s talk about the water. Our country has been plagued by a water shortage in recent years. There have been outbreaks of forest fires and news stories have constantly covered the lack of water in the western parts of the US during the summers. Unfortunately fracking involves water, and a lot of it.
In order to get the natural gas out of the ground, water is mixed with sand and chemicals and pumped at least 5,000 feet below ground. This mixture builds up so much pressure that it breaks the shale rock inside natural gas wells, and releases the gas. It takes 5 million gallons of water to create this fracking fluid. That amount of water is equivalent to the amount of water it takes to water 6.25 acres of corn for an entire growing season.
Now approximately 30 to 70% of this fracking liquid is not re-extracted and remains underground and is not biodegradable. The liquid that is extracted remains in a pit on site where it sits until it is evaporated into the atmosphere. To help speed up the process, companies spray this water into the air so that the sun will evaporate it faster. This evaporated liquid can lead to an increased chance of acid rain.
But there is still hope. Hydraulic fracturing is not a new concept. Companies have been using it to obtain natural gas for a while now. The only difference is that now, companies have to drill deeper into the Earth to reach these natural gas reserves and this is a messy business. Without regulations, fracking will cause harm to the environment and people. The government needs to get rid of the Halliburton loophole, and make fracking a safer process. So this summer as you are getting ready to turn on you sprinkler or water you garden, remember that fracking is still happening, is still a problem, and is a threat not only to people but also to the one of our most vital resources, water.