It is easy to look at fracking in only one of two lights, however it is important to view the whole picture, taking into account both the positives and negatives of the technology. It has halved the number of barrels that now need to be imported to the United States and is also currently generating them $76 million in revenue each year. Unfortunately, amongst these positives come an array of economic and environmental issues that must be taken into account:
As the article explains, the use of fracking leads to decreased reliance on imported oil, however it also means that the economies of exporting nations are adversely impacted. This then leads to an undesirable effect on developing countries, already struggling to keep up with global markets.
While the economies of some countries may be in decline as a result of fracking, those involved in the process see a significant economic benefit. Through the greater amount of oil being discovered, oil and gas prices drop, along with the improvement of energy security through domestic production. By producing oil domestically, the countries are less vulnerable to the consequences of, for example, and attack on an international pipeline. Fracking may also expand the assets of a particular country through technology, providing jobs and in turn, greater wealth for individuals and economic prosperity for the country.
Fracking requires huge amount of water that must be transported to the fracking site, using significant amounts of fuel in the transport process. As well as water being needed, chemicals are also required which are said to be potentially carcinogenic. It is feared that they may escape from the fracking site, contaminating ground water, and in turn, domestic supplies.
Environmental campaigners say that fracking is simply distracting energy firms and governments from investing in renewable sources of energy, and encouraging the continued use of fossil fuels. We need to invest in new technologies now, before it it too late and we are left without a source of energy.
There are wide-spread worries that the fracking process may result in small earth tremors. Two small earthquakes of 1.5 and 2.2 magnitude hit the Blackpool area in 2011 following fracking.
In order to postpone the end of our reliance on oil, fracking is a very suitable option. It increases energy security, lowers prices as well as decreases transport costs associated with oil importation. However, it must not be forgotten that fracking is merely delaying the inevitable. Fracking is not an alternative energy source, but another method of sourcing an existing one. This highlights the biggest problem of fracking, it leads to the diversion of resources from what the industry should be investing in: alternative energy.
Sources: BBC News, 27 June 2013 – ‘What is fracking and why is it controversial?’