By Jillian Stanphill, Business Writer

The booming energy business has opened the door to a relatively new way of obtaining natural gas and oil — fracking.

This practice is controversial from an environmental perspective, but it could also provide the economic answers to the energy crisis.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of drilling into the earth and injecting large amounts of pressurized water and or chemicals into pre-existing fractures to extract natural gas or oil.

According to data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency, the chemicals generally include methanol, formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid, ethylene glycol and sodium hydroxide.
Natural gas and oil extraction systems are common throughout the world and have been used for decades. However, the method of fracking is a new way to source this energy supply.

Opponents of fracking are concerned with the environmental impact it can have.

They are especially worried about air and water contamination and about the theory of increased earthquakes.

The scientific community has produced conflicting data that can support or negate the use of hydraulic fracking.

However, according to the Environmental Health Perspectives journal, all of these cons to fracking can and have been scientifically researched and disproved by accredited agencies.

Stanford University geophysicist Mark Zoback studied the chemical solutions used in fracking and found they had not contaminated water and had a statistically improbable chance of contamination in the future.

Environmentalists also complain about the amount of water used in fracking, even though the water used in the fracking process is continously reused.

An article published in The Los Angeles Times reported that researchers proved earthquakes were unrelated to fracking after a yearlong study found no detectable signs of earth disturbance.

This was also backed by the National Research Council, which claimed that the theory of hydraulic fracking causing earthquakes was incorrect.

As focused on the environment as this issue is, the economy is also a major factor to take into consideration. Fracking provides natural gas in a reasonably inexpensive process, and natural gas gives off less carbon-dioxide emissions than coal.

When people run the system properly, make laws appropriately and when businesses conduct themselves responsibly, there is no reason why fracking cannot be a viable economic decision and a viable energy source.

The Bakken Formation, a rock unit that can be fracked for oil in North Dakota, has been improving the state’s economy since 2008, even in the midst of the recession.

North Dakota has the fastest growing economy in the U.S. coupled with the  lowest unemployment rates in the country.

Oil and gas companies are exempt from certain legislation that would otherwise apply to them, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Companies are not required to publish the chemicals they use in the fracking process, however, many do provide such information for third-party testing.

If the U.S. can become energy independent through fracking, it can be secure in the knowledge that the nation can function stably if other countries cut the States off from fuel sources overseas.  If the U.S. loses oil connections from other nations, fracking may provide it with the ability to protect, maintain and secure the nation’s citizens and economy.


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