Shale Gas Fracturing
The world’s energy crisis is on the rise and the United States government has a major decision to make regarding its massive reserves of natural gas, also known as shale gas. Shale gas is thought to be able to sustain our planet for the next one hundred years. The major problem we face is how to obtain this natural fossil fuel. Shale gas is trapped several thousands of feet below the surface of earth in the shale rock layer. The process to which we drill and obtain shale gas is dangerous, expensive and potentially hazardous to our earth’s environment. Natural gas mining has recently become very common and used extensively through out the United States. It uses the method of hydraulic fracturing. The method of hydraulic fracturing is sophisticated and expensive so it was never used until now that we finally have the means to do so. According to McLendon, (2010) when hydraulic fracturing was first introduced the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) found it to be safe and gave it the go ahead. Now, the issue is being addressed that hydraulic fracturing is leaving behind pollutants and contaminating ground water. This essay will give the reader some basic background information regarding the process of hydraulic fracturing and some potential concerns that are being addressed in recent years.
According to an article in the New York Times, in an online animated demonstration and review (Roberts, Grondahl and Marsh, 2011) the method of hydraulic fracturing begins with a drilling rig or derrick. A vertical well is drilled several thousand feet down through the earth’s crust. Drilling through mostly limestone and sandstone until the water table it reached (pg.1). Once the water table has been tapped, cement is poured around the drilling apparatus to seal out and protect ground water (pg.2). The well then continues vertical until the shale rock layer is reached, usually between 3,000-8,000 feet below the...