Fracking is the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks, boreholes, etc. so as to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas; and it is incredibly detrimental to the environment.
Oil well drilling ruins ecosystems. Eight years ago, a pipe broke in Oklahoma, soaking land with as much as 420,000 gallons of wastewater, a salty drilling byproduct that kills shrubs and grass. Unlike oil spills, the microbes in soil do not eventually break down wastewater, which can lead to detrimental effects. Unless thoroughly cleansed, salt-saturated land dries up, killing crops and trees, which is exactly what occurred (Flesher). Because of this process called fracking, these spills are actually very common, and sometimes land never recovers. Offshore drilling also provides the risks of blowouts, explosions, and disastrous spills. Six years ago, a BP blowout killed 11 workers and gushed millions of barrels of toxic crude oil into some of the richest marine habitat in the world, the Great Barrier Reef. Oil spread across over 1000 miles of coastal lands and marshes and is still taking a toll on marine life today. As a result, tens of thousands of fishermen, oystermen, shrimpers, and others were forced out of work because seafood was declared unsafe to eat (Yardley). If drilling were to take place in federally protected land or sea, that area could forever be destroyed by major mishaps.
Also, opening even more land to drill in, can create an even larger abundance of contaminated water that we already can not maintain. The fracking process uses high-pressure injections of fluid to break apart rock and release trapped oil and natural gas (“Fracking Linked”). This fluid is highly contaminated, and can leak into rivers and streams. Researchers from Duke University and the University of Missouri have studied and tested a stream near a wastewater storage site, whereas they found detectable levels of chemicals that appear because of fracking. These chemicals included barium, calcium, chloride, sodium, lithium, and strontium (Fears). Although these chemicals may sound harmless, they can actually wreak havoc on the hormones of animals, including by switching the testes of male smallmouth bass to ovaries (Fears), and by producing low oxygen “dead zones” such as the enormous one at the mouth of Mississippi (Greshko). Another unprecedented result of fracking, is the production of earthquakes. Oklahoma has experienced a startling spike in earthquakes, due to the disposal of huge volumes of wastewater created by hydraulic fracking, and the rate is rapidly increasing. For example, in 2009, there were only twenty quakes of magnitude 3 in Oklahoma, while last year there were 890 (Yardley). Obviously fracking can lead to an uncontained amount of contaminated water, which is incredibly dangerous and risky.
While some researchers argue that opening national parks for oil well drilling will help expand energy, in the long run, there are more efficient methods to expand and collect energy. Arguably, BP has managed to slash its shale production costs, and it has produced enough natural gas to power 9,000 U.S. homes for a year (Yardley). Although this amount of gas is undeniably abundant, why would we put a number to the amount of energy we collect, when there are methods to obtaining unlimited energy? Oil is a fossil fuel, which means that it has a limited supply and one day we will eventually run out of this precious source, leaving us with no energy, unless we take action. Oil is also one of the leading causes of global warming, an epidemic causing an unhealthy shift in temperature and weather patterns. This is why we need to practice the use of sustainable energy methods including wind power and solar power. Wind power, which generates about 1.4 percent of the world's electricity, is produced as pinwheel-style turbines spin atop towers that rise hundreds of feet above the ground. Solar power most popularly uses panels containing wafers of silicon thinner than a fingernail to convert sunlight into electrical current (“Tough Love”). These two sources of energy are clean, easily obtainable, and emit no harmful chemicals into our environment, whereas positively influencing other aspects of our earth. Obviously, drilling for even more oil in nationally secure areas, will not solve our energy dilemma.
In essence, nationally secure lands and waters need to stay protected from oil fracking. This practice can destroy ecosystems and can even create a surplus of contaminated water. Also, the focus on this essential topic needs to be on sustainable resources. The human race needs to keep these sacred areas protected, in order to preserve and strengthen the place we call home.
Fears, Darryl. "Risks Cited in Storing Water Used in Fracking." Washington Post. SIRS Knowledge Source. Accessed 6 Feb. 2017.
Flesher, John. "Drilling Spills Foul Ranch Land." Los Angeles Times. SIRS Knowledge Source.
"Fracking Linked to Most Induced Earthquakes in Western Canada." UPL Space Daily. SIRS Knowledge Source. Accessed 9 Feb. 2017.
Greshko, Michael. "What Does Trump Mean for America's National Lands and Waters." National Geographic. Accessed 7 Feb. 2017.
Suh, Rhea. "Why We Must Stop New Offshore Drilling." NRDC, 15 June 2016.
"Tough Love for Renewable Energy: Making Wind and Solar Power Affordable." Foreign Affajrs. SIRS Knowledge Source, sks.sirs.com/webapp/article?artno=0000344778&type=ART.
Yardley, William. "Oklahoma Is Moved to Action; State Officials Take Steps to Address Earthquakes Related to Fracking." Los Angeles Times. SIRS Knowledge Source. Accessed 8 Feb. 2017.
Yardley, William, and Halper Evan. "New Offshore Drilling Ban Sets Up Battle." Los Angeles Times. SIRS Knowledge Source. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.
Carly Gottlieb is a high school senior at American Heritage School in Plantation, FL.