Hydraulic Cracking – Causes and Effects

It is a very economical technique that many extractors choose to adopt

Hydraulic fracturing, sometimes called hydraulic cracking, hydraulic flaring, or hydraulic drilling, is an energy-rich drilling technique using a high-pressure liquid to fracture underground strata for producing natural gas, oil, or water. When this technique is used, it is often done to extract heavy metals such as iron ore from deep wells. It is also used to extract precious gemstones from deep wells. This highly versatile technique can also be utilized to recover oil from a wide variety of locations including on-site veins in rivers, ice-capped mountains, thick permafrost, or coastal sandbars.

In this day and age there are numerous benefits from hydraulic fracturing; however, the most apparent benefits come from tapping into new reserves of natural gas, oil, and water. One major natural gas benefit from hydraulic fracturing is the development of the country’s gas industry. In fact, the technique has already developed enough to be able to produce fuel at a higher volume than was previously thought possible. The technology is also helping to solve the problem of climate change because of the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are being produced when natural gas is extracted and burned.

hydraulic fracturing fluids currently being used

One of the largest natural gas field developments to occur recently came in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. There are several hydraulic fracturing fluids currently being used in the fractures in the Susquehanna gas field. This natural occurrence is occurring because of geothermic pressure from the shale layer in the earth. There is also geothermal gradient near the fractures that is causing methane to be trapped below the surface.

The EPA has identified two major concerns with the hydraulic fracturing liquids. The initial issue pertains to the wastewater produced during the operation. According to the EPA, there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that hydraulic fracturing liquids pose a significant threat to drinking water quality. However, studies have found that some chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process can enter local streams and rivers and may cause contamination of those bodies of water. Additionally, reports have shown that the practice of hydraulic fracturing may result in elevated levels of certain contaminants in the drinking water supply.

hydraulic fracturing can cause harm to the environment

According to the Federal Government’s Natural Resources Safety Administration, natural gas and groundwater supplies will experience little to no change due to hydraulic fracturing. The agency stated in January, however, that it was “monitoring the situation” and was considering regulating the practice of hydraulic fracturing. The EPA states that the “EPA is concerned about the impacts on drinking water, especially for people who already have undiagnosed or sporadic exposure to naturally occurring or synthetic chemicals.” Although the agency says that it is currently evaluating the data on the subject, there are numerous reports out there stating that there is significant evidence that hydraulic fracturing can cause harm to the environment. These reports cite damage to streams, rivers and lakes, and even risks to national security.

The debate over hydraulic fracturing has been one that has been playing out since the beginning of the drilling process, but it seems to be picking up steam quicker this year. Many argue that because the drilling is done in a colder and less oxygenated environment, the risk of harm to the environment increases greatly. Others point out that water supplies will never be polluted enough to cause a problem, since groundwater quality is such a delicate balance. In the end, only the citizens of the United States can say for sure whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for groundwater quality, but if the trend continues to hold true, we could be looking at some major trouble in the near future.

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