Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fracking linked to contaminated groundwater

I go back and forth on fracking. I saw a presentation last week by a TU Master's student on how fracking for natural gas can be done safely. It should definitely be regulated for a variety of reasons: if not done carefully, you can have a great deal of methane lost at the frack site, wiping out the process's alleged benefit over coal in the area of greenhouse gas emissions. Yes, there is a heck of a lot of water consumed by the process, so doing this out West during the current drought may not be appropriate. Also, the risk of earthquakes is real and needs to be taken into account: I don't know yet how bad that is, so it may be excessive.

Almost all types of energy production create pollution, whether air, water, or both, and I think pretty much everyone agrees that natural gas is better than coal. Coal mining is definitely worse than gas extraction, and burning coal creates CO2, it creates acid rain, and it puts a variety of other chemicals into the air. The ash left after coal is burned is also a huge problem, as it contains heavy metals and radioactive material. There's also really a lot of coal ash, so disposal is increasingly a problem.

A final issue in favor of gas has been that the liquid waste that is produced is injected deep underground, way past the water table, and that part of the hole that is at the water table has something like 5-7 separate protective jackets to ensure that there is no leakage. So, the pollution is effectively hidden... or so we thought! In April of 2015 an article came out claiming that chemicals used in fracking were found in groundwater. Uh oh. The back and forth goes on.

No comments:

Post a Comment