What the Frack?


Ed Andrieski/AP

A fracking well in Colorado, pictured in 2012

Amanjot Bains (12th), Reporter

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for short, is not a new technique in the way oil or gas is extracted for energy purposes. It has been used since the 1800’s in the United States, and in the 1900’s, the technique was modified to use to water in the process.

As any big operation would, fracking increases the local employment rates. For many people in poorer areas, this is enough to let the fracking operations into their towns. However, Brian Hofsteen, a teacher at Pitman High School, believes that increasing employment is not worth it:

“The long term effects outweigh the benefits of employment.”

Hofsteen would not approve of a hydraulic fracturing operation being set up in Turlock. Turlock’s water is supplied through aquifers, so the fracking would cause the town to be a “toxic place to live.”

I asked him if he would give up his house to hydraulic fracturing if he was offered one million dollars. Like any sane person, Brian Hofsteen said “yes.”

But he would not accept an offer of only $100,000, and absolutely not only one or two thousand dollars. People in Alaska are given that small amount per year to appease them and allow for operations to be set up around their houses.

Hofsteen spoke about his hometown back in Colorado. A couple of years ago, there had been only one fracturing site set up. And now, they’re everywhere you look. It proved the saying “Give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile” to be completely true.

Fracking can be credited for displacing the burning of coal and shifting over to cleaner energy, but it might not be doing as great a job of helping the environment as it should be.

Fracking is a cause for several types of pollution – water, air, and noise. In just a few states, there had been thousands of reports of water contamination caused by faulty pipes and other nuances that caused many people to become sick.

In a documentary, “Gasland,” made by Josh Fox, Daniel David “Dan” Boren, a retired politician, stated that there had not been any problems with hydraulic fracturing.

Hundreds of chemicals are involved in the fracking process and twenty percent of them are classified. Mike John from Chesapeake Energy stated, “hydraulic fracturing absolutely does not pose a threat to drinking water,” but on the other hand objected to a bill that would require the disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracking process.

Hydraulic fracturing releases harmful gases to be released into the air. It also causes enough noise to cause health problems to people living nearby.

One thing that many can appreciate is that hydraulic fracturing in the US is a source of cheap energy for us. But that is a con within itself. With cheaper energy available due to fracking, there will be little to no incentive to move over to renewable energy.

Since other countries are already looking for alternative energy sources, Hofsteen feels the US may be left behind.
As of right now, Brian Hofsteen believes that solution is to let the public know what chemicals are being used in the fracking process. Without the knowledge, people can’t take action to remain safe and healthy.