Debate Club

Is Fracking a Good Idea?

Is Fracking a Good Idea?

In 2000, shale beds provided just 1 percent of America’s natural gas supply. Today, that figure stands at nearly 25 percent.

Most of that production increase is due to the growing popularity of hydraulic fracturing--known colloquially as “fracking”--a process used to release oil or gas from underground formations that are otherwise too difficult to mine. Over the past few years, advances in fracking technology have made tremendous reserves of natural gas in the United States economically recoverable for the first time. According to the Energy Information Administration, shale gas plays, or fields, in the United States--most notably the Marcellus, in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York, and the Barnett, in Texas--are said to contain enough natural gas to power the country for 110 years. With the enticing specter of energy independence in the balance, some have argued that such efforts to recover natural gas need to be expanded. Activists concerned with fracking’s potential environmental hazards view the process as a serious threat.

The process of fracking creates fractures that extend from wells into oil and gas formations by pumping highly-pressurized fluid--water, sand, ceramic beads, and a mixture of chemicals--into the oil or gas formation. As this fluid holds the underground fissures open, oil and gas flow up the well to the surface where they can be recovered. Water makes up an overwhelmingly high percentage of fracking fluid, but a congressional Democrat report released in April identified about 750 chemicals that have also been used in the process, 29 of which are either likely or known carcinogens. That fluid also flows back up the well, and is stored in open pits until it can be sent to a treatment plant. Depending upon local geology, a variable amount of fracking fluid remains in the ground after a well has run dry. Likewise, fracking is known to produce airborne pollutants like methane, benzene, and sulfur oxide, and the EPA has recently targeted this pollution and plans to set strict guidelines to reduce it.

Is fracking a good idea? Here is the Debate Club’s take:


The Arguments

#2
152 Pts
Natural Gas Is an Energy Solution That Works Today

Yes – Natural Gas Is an Energy Solution That Works Today

Jon Olson Associate Professor in the Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Austin

#3
116 Pts
Fracking Is Not a Solution

No – Fracking Is Not a Solution

John Detwiler Private Citizen with Marcellus Shale Protest

#4
113 Pts
Fracking Is Destroying Our Groundwater

No – Fracking Is Destroying Our Groundwater

Tracy Carluccio Deputy Director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network

#5
99 Pts
Fracking Threatens Public Safety and Health
#6
40 Pts
No Evidence of Groundwater Contamination From Fracking

Yes – No Evidence of Groundwater Contamination From Fracking

Daniel Simmons Director of State Affairs at the Institute for Energy Research

#7
16 Pts
Shale Reserves Mean Security for U.S. and Its Oil and Gas Industry

Yes – Shale Reserves Mean Security for U.S. and Its Oil and Gas Industry

Chris Faulkner Founder, President, and CEO of Breitling Oil and Gas

#8
8 Pts
Learn the Hard Lessons of Coal Pollution

No – Learn the Hard Lessons of Coal Pollution

Trent Dougherty Director of Legal Affairs for the Ohio Environmental Council

#9
-13 Pts
Fracking Technology Has Been Used Safely for Years

Yes – Fracking Technology Has Been Used Safely for Years

Lee Fuller Vice President of Government Relations for the Independent Petroleum Association of America

#10
-41 Pts
Mining of Shale Gas Makes Sense

Yes – Mining of Shale Gas Makes Sense

Gregg Laskoski Senior Petroleum Analyst for GasBuddy.com


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