Author: Sarah_Wor_Debater

The Use of Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas Extraction Does More Good Than Harm.

Image for The use of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction does more good than harm.

CON (5 arguments)

1. Hydraulic fracturing causes harm to the public health.
Impact:

More than 650 products containing chemicals with cancer-causing properties have been used in fracking.

Some of the cancer risk from fracking comes from the release of naturally occurring chemicals found deep in the earth. One of them is radium-226, which is as radioactive. Of over 240 fracked gas wells in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, almost three-fourths produced wastewater with elevated levels of radiation.Texas now has about 93,000 natural-gas wells, up from around 58,000 12 years ago. A hospital system in six counties with some of the heaviest drilling said that in 2010 it found a 25 percent asthma rate for young children, more than three times the state rate of about 7 percent.

Not only are innocent people being harmed, but the workers who work at these wells also are harmed, too. Hydraulic fracturing sand, used during hydraulic fracking, contains up to 99% silica. Breathing silica can cause silicosis, which is a lung disease where lung tissue around trapped silica particles reacts, causing inflammation and scarring and reducing the lungs' ability to take in oxygen. Workers who breathe silica day after day are at greater risk of developing silicosis. Silica can also cause lung cancer and has been linked to other diseases, such as tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney and autoimmune disease.

In Texas, fracked gas wells poisoned hundreds of drinking water aquifers with benzene and methane. Likewise, in Pavillion, Wyoming, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found benzene in groundwater and wells. Benzene exposure is strongly associated with childhood leukemia and is a known human carcinogen.Fr

In late 2007, citizens in Texas noticed changes in their well water just after a natural gas well within a th extremely high pressure, blowing out pipes. Showering caused skin irritation. The Railroad Commission of couple of hundred yards of their properties was hydraulically fractured. All of the citizens noticed strong sulfur smells in their water, making it unusable. At first their water ran dry, and then the water returned with poisons.Texas acknowledged that testing of well water found toluene and other toxic contaminants.

More than 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater was produced by Pennsylvania wells over the past three years, far more than has been previously disclosed. Most of this water — enough to cover Manhattan in three inches — was sent to treatment plants not equipped to remove many of the toxic materials in drilling waste.

At least 12 sewage treatment plants in three states accepted gas industry wastewater and discharged waste that was only partly treated into rivers, lakes and streams.

Of more than 179 wells producing wastewater with high levels of radiation, at least 116 reported levels of radium or other radioactive materials 100 times as high as the levels set by federal drinking-water standards. At least 15 wells produced wastewater carrying more than 1,000 times the amount of radioactive elements considered acceptable.

Five confirmed states (possibly more), Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, have found gas seeping into underground drinking-water supplies and residents have blamed natural-gas drilling.

Another growing threat is air pollution caused by natural-gas drilling. In 2009, Wyoming failed to meet federal standards for air quality, mainly due to fumes containing benzene and toluene from roughly 27,000 wells—most of those wells having been drilled in the past five years.

Sources:

New York Times, CNN

2. Hydraulic fracking hurts the economy.
Warrant:

Road maintenance alone will cost communities up to $375 million, according to a draft report by the state Department of Transportation, since each well generates about 4,000 extra heavy truck trips. Many local officials and businesspeople warn that fracking will erode New York's all-important tourism sector, by "creating an industrial landscape that far outlives the profitability of gas extraction." Studies show that drill-friendly communities do worse than others in personal income, employment growth, economic diversity, educational attainment, and ability to attract investment. Then there are the risks to private property and real estate. Several major national lenders refuse to grant mortgages to homeowners with gas leases; fracking puts as much as $670 billion in secondary mortgage debt at risk.

Not only does fracking itself hurt the economy, but also the side effects, water contamination and diseases, cost money.

Cleanup of drinking water contamination is so expensive that it is rarely even attempted. In Dimock, Pennsylvania, Cabot Oil & Gas reported having spent $109,000 on systems to remove methane from well water for 14 local households, while in Colorado, cleanup of an underground gas seep has been ongoing for eight years at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more.

The provision of temporary replacement water supplies is also expensive. Cabot Oil & Gas reported having spent at least $193,000 on replacement water for homes with contaminated water in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

Fracking can also pollute drinking water sources for major municipal systems, increasing water treatment costs. If fracking were to degrade the New York City watershed with sediment or other pollution, construction of a filtration plant would cost approximately $6 billion.

Now onto diseases, silicosis is one of a family of dust-induced occupational ailments that imposed $50 million medical care costs in the United States in 2007.

Air pollution from gas drilling in Arkansas’ Fayetteville Shale region imposed estimated public health costs of more than $10 million in 2008.

Fracking can affect the value of nearby homes. A 2010 study in Texas concluded that houses valued at more than $250,000 and within 1,000 feet of a well site saw their values decrease by 3 to 14 percent.

Fracking has several negative impacts on farms, including the loss of livestock due to exposure to spills of fracking wastewater, increased difficulty in obtaining water supplies for farming, and potential conflicts with organic agriculture. In Pennsylvania, the five counties with the heaviest Marcellus Shale drilling activity saw an 18.5 percent reduction in milk production between 2007 and 2010.

According to a recent analysis prepared by the Western Energy Alliance and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the annual cost of complying with the proposed Bureau of Land Management rules would exceed $345 million, or $97,000 per well, in the western states alone.

 

Sources:

Department of Transportation

3. Natural disasters occur because of hydraulic fracturing.
Warrant:

In December of 2010 in Washington County, Pennsylvania, the town has recorded 109 earthquakes since they opened up hydraulic fracturing in their area. The practice of hydraulic fracturing causes earthquakes, both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded, because until two years ago Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year, but in 2010, 1,047 quakes shook the state, because there was an increase in hydraulic fracturing wells. In fact, 181 more wells were added, causing seismic activity.

A study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds a correlation between dozens of earthquakes in Texas’ Barnett Shale region—the site of intensive hydraulic fracturing activity—and the locations of the wells.  

A study, by Won-Young Kim,a professor at Columbia University, found that in a single year, 167 distinct earthquakes occurred in and around the town of Youngstown, Ohio. All of these were caused by just one wastewater injection well. It stored, over its life, nearly half a million barrels of the wastewater , which includes thickeners, drilling lubricants, and saltwater that are forced to the surface of the earth by the fracking process.

Oklahoma, for instance, had the state's largest-ever earthquake, a 5.7, emanated from a dead fault line reawakened by hydraulic fracturing. Seventeen states felt that quake, in late 2011, which ripped open clefts in the road and was followed by a 4.7 aftershock.

The Geology study estimates that during the last four years, the number of earthquakes in the middle of the U.S. was 11 times higher than the average rate over the previous 30 years.

4. Hydraulic fracturing take up way too many resources.
Impact:

Each gas well requires an average of400 tanker trucks to carry water and supplies to and from the site. Then, the water brought in is mixed with sand and chemicals to create fracking fluid. Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used per fracturing. Up to 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid, including known carcinogens and toxins such as… Uranium, lead, mercury, ethylene glycol, radium, methanol, hydrochloric acid and formaldehyde. 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals are used for all the gas wells in the US. 500,00 active gas wells in the US, 8 million gallons of water per fracking and 18 times a well can be fracked multiplies up to big numbers.

The truck traffic needed to deliver water to a single fracking well causes as much damage to local roads as nearly 3.5 million car trips. The state of Texas has approved $40 million in funding for road repairs in the Barnett Shale region, while Pennsylvania estimated in 2010 that $265 million would be needed to repair damaged roads in the Marcellus Shale region.

Fracking brings with it increased demands for public services. A 2011 survey of eight Pennsylvania counties found that 911 calls had increased in seven of them, with the number of calls increasing in one county by 49 percent over three years.

5. Hydraulic fracturing has an adverse affect on the environment.
Impact:

In late 2007, citizens in Texas noticed changes in their well water just after a natural gas well within a th extremely high pressure, blowing out pipes. Showering caused skin irritation. The Railroad Commission of couple of hundred yards of their properties was hydraulically fractured. All of the citizens noticed strong sulfur smells in their water, making it unusable. At first their water ran dry, and then the water returned with poisons.Texas acknowledged that testing of well water found toluene and other toxic contaminants.

More than 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater was produced by Pennsylvania wells over the past three years, far more than has been previously disclosed. Most of this water — enough to cover Manhattan in three inches — was sent to treatment plants not equipped to remove many of the toxic materials in drilling waste.

At least 12 sewage treatment plants in three states accepted gas industry wastewater and discharged waste that was only partly treated into rivers, lakes and streams.

Of more than 179 wells producing wastewater with high levels of radiation, at least 116 reported levels of radium or other radioactive materials 100 times as high as the levels set by federal drinking-water standards. At least 15 wells produced wastewater carrying more than 1,000 times the amount of radioactive elements considered acceptable.

Five confirmed states (possibly more), Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, have found gas seeping into underground drinking-water supplies and residents have blamed natural-gas drilling.

Another growing threat is air pollution caused by natural-gas drilling. In 2009, Wyoming failed to meet federal standards for air quality, mainly due to fumes containing benzene and toluene from roughly 27,000 wells—most of those wells having been drilled in the past five years.