Fracking is the process of releasing natural gas within rock in the Earth. The term fracking refers to the actual fissure of rocks being fractured apart by high pressure — it first originated in the 1950s when the economy needed to find new oil and gas wells.
The birth of modern day hydraulic fracking began in the 1990s. It originated through George P. Mitchell, who combined horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing. The process of horizontal drilling [directional drilling] involves oil wells that aren’t vertical – essentially all of the wells used for natural gas production. Through the process of horizontal drilling, it would release pressure through the opposing direction of the drill, causing even more potential for gas to pass through.
The Shale Oil Boom occurred around the 2000s, which also allowed for higher oil prices. With the recession, oil prices both rose and tanked, creating chaos within the shale oil industry. Commercial success came with the combination of multiple companies that increased the usage of fracking. Water, pressure, as well as chemicals would bring the rapid increase/ need for fracking in places like Pennsylvania, Texas, and Arkansas. As a result of fracking, there have been many controversial aspects of what ‘natural gas’ can do for the environment. The United States, as a result of hydraulic fracturing, is in an energy revolution that has increased the total amount of energy throughout the country. About 95% of the natural gas will require the usage of hydraulic fracturing. Thanks to fracking, the U.S. is now the world’s leading oil producer. From the years 2012 to 2040, the estimates that gas production will increase 56%.
There are many problems that arise with fracking. Many people believe that the increase of natural gas consumption will decrease and save the Earth from excessive climate change, but Haewon McJeon, a scientist at Joint Global Change Research Institute provides evidence otherwise. ‘The global development of technology could double or triple gas production by 2050… emission by the middle of the century will increase 10 percent higher than they would otherwise be.’
The contamination of groundwater has always been considered a problem as well, especially with the lethal chemicals that would be injected into the Earth in order to reach the shale. Multiple instances of environmental degradation occur under fracking, such as infrastructure deprivation, air pollution due to toxics and chemicals, as well as fracking- induced earthquakes.
The modern world will now need to decide whether or not fracking is necessary. Under a new government primarily run by businesses and corporations, an increase of fracking might be seen. President Donald Trump has already been quoted to support everything about fracking and that would lead to a huge ‘pro- oil’ industry. These decisions can be catastrophic if not evaluated correctly- different value judgements would come into play regarding the influence of fracking politically, socially, and economically.