Fracking a negligent practice

Kaitlin Clark, Guest Columnist

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“Fracking” is a simple term that the majority of people don’t know much about, which is quite an issue when it is wreaking havoc on our planet. Since the practice of fracking has increased over the last few years, we have seen terrible results. Earthquakes are now more prevalent around areas where fracking occurs. Our other natural resources have been tainted by oil, and even if a fracking spill doesn’t occur, the process still uses millions of gallons of water every year, a resource that is essential for all life. We have seen the signs, and for too long we have ignored them. It is time to take a stand against fracking.

Short for hydraulic fracturing, fracking is the process in which a fracturing fluid, which is a mix of chemicals and water, is pumped into the ground in order to break the shale formations beneath the surface, which releases gas that can be brought to the surface and used.

At first, it seems like a great idea. We need more gas, and if there is more to be found in the ground, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t extract it.

All it takes, though, is one earthquake to change people’s minds. Earthquakes, while not unheard of in Kansas, are rarely felt. However, within the last few months we have experienced two. After one of these events, all it takes is one glance at your phone to see people posting about how they could feel the ground shaking beneath them.

In the most recent of these, the source of the earthquake could be traced back to one location: Cushing, Oklahoma. Smaller earthquakes had preceded the one that hit on Nov. 6 of this year, but no one thought to stop. After all, fracking was the source of income for many in Cushing’s community of roughly 8,000 people. It wasn’t until then that fracking gained serious national coverage. A 5.0 magnitude earthquake hit the town, causing quakes that could be felt for miles. The effects were even felt here in Manhattan, a full state away. The methods we are using to extract oil is causing the very ground we walk on to move and yet, we do nothing to stop it.

Fracking spills damage the environment in a way that is nearly irreparable.  When accidental spills do occur, the water that is affected can have dangerously high levels of chemicals for years after. This can injure or even kill wildlife that comes into contact with the tainted water.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency may have concluded that fracking had no negative effects on public drinking water, but for the people of Pennsylvania, the story did not end there. In Bradford County, Pennsylvania, testing concluded that water samples from three different homes contained increased levels of a compound used in drilling fluids. The real question is, how did those chemicals get into the water, and how will it affect the people who drink it? Bradford is just one of many cases of water contamination resulting from fracking; it is not an isolated event. If fracking continues at the rate it currently is, it will only make things worse.

Even if we are lucky enough to not experience a fracking spill, the process itself takes millions of gallons of water. On average, each well takes 9.6 million gallons of water to function. Once the water has been used in the fracking process, it’s contaminated, and there’s no way to reverse the effects.

All it takes is one Internet search to see the widespread drought our country has been facing. Fracking only makes this worse. If not properly disposed of, the water can cause widespread damage to plants and animals in the area. Fracking isn’t making anything better, it’s just changing the problems we face.

We have ignored the effects of fracking, claiming that it’s safe. On the surface, many see it as creating jobs and increasing the oil we have, when in reality it is much worse. If we don’t do something to slow down the fracking industry, the natural wonders we take for granted may not be here for future generations.

Remember, we only have one earth, and we must strive to take care of it.

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