The Truth About Hydrofracking

The Truth About Hydrofracking

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Amari D. Pollard '17, NEWS & FEATURES EDITOR

The United States is gradually becoming a major energy producer due to shale fracking, said journalist Tim Wilber during his talk.

“Economics push policies,” Wilber said. “We’re producing so much shale gas that there’s discussion of the United States becoming a global natural gas provider.”

In Grewen Auditorium, Wilber, the author of “Under the Surface: Fracking, fortunes and the fate of the Marcellus shale,” discussed the environmental realities of fracking and the policies that activists are fighting to put in place.

Wilber called fracking “one of the biggest environmental political issues in the state’s [New York] history.” Natural gas was never a big deal in Upstate New York said Wilber, but with the discovery of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale and the potential dangers, New York has become the “showcase” of the anti-fracking movement.

According to Wilber, the fracking industry doesn’t have to disclose what it’s injecting into the ground because the federal government doesn’t regulate it; and that’s what makes it so risky.

People are continuing to raise concerns in town governments regarding how to regulate fracking within their state.

“Since it’s now [fracking] happening here, it forces us to pay attention,” Wilber said.

Hydrofracking involves drilling and injecting water, sand and chemicals into the shale under high pressure to cause fractures that allow natural gas to flow. The process puts people who live near the industrialized land at risk. Methane gas and toxic chemicals tend to leak into nearby groundwater.

According to the Environmental Engineering and Contracting, Inc. [EEC], hydrofracking can be traced back to the 1940s. However, the drilling system has gained more notoriety in recent years due to the discovery of its environmental hazards. The release of the 2010 film, “Gasland,” by Josh Fox helped to spread the risks of fracking across America.

Professor Delia Popescu, the director of the Political Science department [the main sponsor of Wilber’s event], was excited to have Wilber on campus because he would be able to shed light on hydrofracking and its immediate effects on this region.

“The talk highlighted the individual and collective actions that can be taken to alleviate such problems [shale hydrofracking],” Popescu said. “And it is my hope that Le Moyne students will use this information to both inform others and act constructively within their community.”

As long as the price of natural gas increases, companies will try harder to develop fracking sites, explained Wilber. He also said that at one time, many people thought natural gas was a good thing because it enhanced local economies by creating jobs and paying landowners stipends for leasing their land. Consequences like water contamination and the risk of explosion were never considered.

Sophomore Jessica Walter was shocked by how little people know about the truths behind hydrofracking, that companies can get away with so much. However, Walter remained hopeful for the future of the environment, stating, “The development and research of alternative energy sources such as solar or wind is so important because it will help to avoid hurting the earth more than we already have.”