Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method of natural gas extraction using deep natural gas well drilling. A well is drilled and millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into the ground. The pressure fractures (hence the name) the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. This sounds great to many people – a clean and relatively untapped source of energy. But the fact is fracking has its very vocal opponents and for good reason. It just isn’t as clean and easy as it sounds.
Those hip to the dangers of fracking (you can read up on them here) have probably seen a number of reports and the subject and maybe even seen some video footage of flammable water coming out of residential taps, but what about the effect on our food supply?
Now comes word from The Nation, and a very thorough peer-reviewed report on the impacts of fracking on the food supply, that the impacts exceed what was initially feared. Reporter Elizabeth Royte outlines how the increased instance of fracking has been polluting the land and, in turn, leaving farm animals sick. Royte briefly profiles a rancher in North Dakota whose land has been greatly compromised by area fracking and the chemical residue left behind and “reminds us that farmers need clean water, clean air and clean soil to produce healthful food. But as the largest private landholders in shale areas across the nation, farmers are disproportionately being approached by energy companies eager to extract oil and gas from beneath their properties. Already, some are regretting it.”
Now the issue of fracking has largely been of local concern in pockets of the United States (Pennsylvania, the Dakotas, parts of the southeast, etc) but the lobbying effort to legalize fracking in much of the country remains quite strong. The landscape is literally changing under our feet.
Are you concerned about the impact of fracking on your local food and water supply? Do you feel the concern is overblown? Is fracking a necessary evil, whose environmental impacts can be more carefully mitigated?