The report is for a Communications unit for the Higher National Certificate in Administration and Communications Technology. The aim of the report is to investigate fracking and how it affects economy, the environment and the wider demographic. The objective of the report stands to inform and persuade the reader about fracking and its impacts on the three areas stated above.
The foundation of the report has derived from
To understand fracking and its various impacts, the basic fundamentals must be stated.
The process of fracking begins by first locating the site and tapping rock formations such as shale by drilling a mile long well down and after gradually veering horizontally for another half mile. The well is then cased and cemented with small holes drilled on the horizontal casing for the fracturing process.
A mixture of 90% water, 9.5% sand and 0.5 additives is then pumped at a high pressure through the holes in the horizontal casing forming small fractures in the rock formations which are held open by the sand. The mixture is then pumped back out for disposal. Gas and oil now seeps through the fractures and are pumped back up to a storage tank with usually the pressure underground helping push the gas and oil up without aid of a pump though a pump may be used. Transportation of the final product is usually done by lorry where it is pumped and moved to its final destination.
The main reason a company would pursue fracking is the economic gain it would receive. As energy demands grow steadily, a larger market has fruited for natural gas evident from the US usage figures. In 2016 the US used 27.49 trillion ft? which is a huge increase from 21.69 trillion ft? back in 1996.
The massive energy companies which perform fracking for example Chevron corp., ExxonMobil Corp and ConocoPhillips Co. have had beneficial returns over the last five years of 81%, 41% and 81% indicating money has been made from their positive investments.
Apart from the huge money benefits companies get, fracking is also much better for the environment when compared to other mining processes. Fuels such as coal and oil release huge amounts of CO2 with coal releasing other chemicals such as sulphur into the atmosphere contributing to global warming. Whilst fracking does release CO2 as well, it burns it a lot cleaner and by burning more natural gas instead of coal, global warming will slow down.
From a survey for fracking, it was found that fracking was placed 2nd in terms of environment effect and economy compared with coal mining, deep water drilling and uranium mining showing that fracking is preferred over coal.
Fracking has also allowed a greater availability of natural gas and oil allowing gas prices to reduce meaning cheaper heating and gas use. Since fracking helps increase the abundance of gas and oil it allows renewable energy research to further advance to a much more sustainable energy source for homes, commerce and industry as it allows more time for the research to continue without putting pressure to get the improved renewables to the public.
To understand fracking’s impact on the world, we must also consider how it affects the public. In summary, fracking contributes to our lives as; tax and funding is spent on funding the development, research and construction of fracking sites, it involves possible living near the sites and it increases employment.
Fracking has its problems and expenditure which are solved with money, money from taxes and funding. This could easily be spent on valuable research and construction of improved renewable energies to reduce finite energy sources and further reducing greenhouse gases. From a survey asking which research money should be invested in, 63.64% chose renewable energies, 27.27% for safer and more efficient fracking and 9.09% for other. This data helps show what the public opinion is towards research funding. From the same survey it is asked if fracking should occur in large scale in the UK as an alternative energy source 54.54% disagreed, 18.18% had no opinion and 27.27% agreed further showing a negative opinion for fracking occurring.
Living near a fracking site is also believed to pose problems as they can be unsightly, noisy and unsafe. From the survey, personal safety and environmental concerns were placed 1st and 2nd respectively with money, unsightliness and noise following. It is also asked if the person would live near a fracking site in which 100% answered no.
Whilst fracking has many negative outlooks, it does help employment as more sites are constructed, more job opportunities arise. Figures from globalenergyinstitute.org show that in the US, 1.7 million jobs have already been created with a total of 3.5 million anticipated for 2035.
One of the major concerns towards fracking is its environmental impacts on the planet. Although the gas that’s captured and used for energy releases less CO2 than coal, it still contributes to global warming. Furthermore one of the chemicals used for the process is methane, which is estimated that 4% escapes during extraction. This is problematic as methane is 25 times stronger than CO2 for trapping heat excessively increasing the effects of global warming and decreasing air quality around the sites itself. Additionally transportation of the product also increases emissions from storage and disposal.
The process of fracking is also believed to induce earthquakes due to the high pressures used to extract the products and from fractures and pipework collapsing in on themselves.
The fracking process also uses millions of gallons of water wholly affects local water sources which may be near communities. This decreases clean water availability and if a leak in the fracking process were to occur it could possible contaminate water sources posing a massive danger to local residents.
Wastewater from the fracking process that is returned to the ground comprise of contaminants toxic to health and oil which is spilled onto the ground can also damage the environment beyond remedy.
Fracking is hugely beneficial for the economy as it reduces gas prices as seen from brookings.edu which states prices in the US have dropped by 47% compared to previous prices. This reduced gas bills to $13 billion/year between 2007 and 2013 due to increase fracking resulting in a $74 billion year economic gain from energy consumers such as commercial, industrial and electric consumers.
The reduced gas prices also means that energy companies which burn gas for producing electricity can buy in more to further increase power output rates resulting in strengthened energy security reduced energy bills as well.
The increased job opportunities also creates new wealth and increased wages which further the economy.
In summary fracking is a gas extracting process which impacts the environment, economy and the people in various different ways. On one hand it consumes lots of water, releases emissions, possible induces earthquakes, wastes money on research, is unsightly and creates safety concerns whilst on the other hand it creates jobs, boosts the economy, is considerable better compared to other finite sources and delays pressure for quicker renewable energies.
Overall fracking has a negative impact on the environment and the lives of people whilst also squandering funding.
To tackle the impacts of fracking:
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