Have you heard The Fracking Song? It asks, “What the frack is going on with all this fracking going on? I think we need some facts to come to light.” Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie decides to answer the call by looking into complaints about hydraulic fracturing, a technique that promises to unleash vast and heretofore unknown reserves of oil and natural gas that could keep Americans producing energy independently for centuries. The problems mainly associated with fracking don’t come from the technique used to open the wells, but from the kind of well maintenance that has to occur regardless of which technology and methodology explorers employ to find and extract oil and gas:
Fracking has been around for more than 60 years and over 100,000 gas wells are dug per year, most of them in sparsely populated areas in the western U.S. With the discovery of the Marcellus Shale in the eastern part of the country, fracking is increasingly common in populated parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, leading to heightened tensions between drillers and environmentalists. Indeed, the attorney general of New York has called for a moratorium on the practice in the Empire State.
Is fracking safe? And what are the potential benefits that will be forfeited if the practice is ended? Reason’s Nick Gillespie sat down with science correspondent Ronald Bailey to learn the truth about fracking. Bailey reports that the cases of contaminated water supplies were the result of poorly designed wells that had nothing to do with fracking itself. As important, he notes that the gas generated by fracking would not only massively increase American energy supply, it would do so with a relatively clean and cheap fuel.
The problem with fracking isn’t that it’s particularly new or dangerous. The methodology has been in use for decades, and it is as safe as other drilling processes. The real problem is that it could produce relatively cheap hydrocarbon energy for a very long time, and that’s what has environmentalists worried.