Fracking, the controversial method of extracting natural gas from deep beneath the ground, is gaining popularity. But is it safe?
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This is how it works: A well is drilled wayyyy down into the shale layer—this can be a mile or more beneath the earth’s surface. Once it reaches the shale, the well is then drilled horizontally, which again can extend for a mile or more.
Then a fluid mixture containing water, sand, and a bunch of chemicals is blasted down the well at extremely high pressure, breaking the shale apart. As the gas is released from the rock, it flows into the well, where it can be sucked up to the surface to be collected and separated from the fracking fluid.
The whole part where the rock is blasted apart by high pressure fluid is where the technique gets its full name: ‘hydraulic fracturing,’ or fracking for short.
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How Has Fracking Changed Our Future?
“Debate rages on about whether these worldwide reserves can be tapped safely, and whether environmental damage from fracking natural gas will outweigh the gains from using a fuel that is cleaner than oil or coal, but remains a fossil fuel nonetheless. A few viewpoints on both sides of the issue follow.”
“Although American entrepreneurs have known for more than a century how to crack open rocks deep below the earth’s surface to access trapped fossil fuel deposits, fracking gained a serious foothold in the nation’s energy market only in the past two decades.”
EPA Concludes Fracking a Threat to U.S. Water Supplies
“The EPA report found evidence that fracking has contributed to drinking water contamination — “cases of impact” — in all stages of the process… resulting in contamination of groundwater resources.”
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