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Monday, October 28, 2013

The truth about fracking: A guide

By Brandon William Peach

So much hype and misinformation exists around hydraulic fracturing (better known as fracking), so it's tough to separate fact from fiction. Since it's a hotly debated issue, it's important to arm yourself with facts about fracking that don't depend on the spin of lobbyists. Here are a few things we can say for sure about fracking - along with a handy infographic that should help make sense of the process.

Fracking seeks to recreate natural processes to extract gas, petroleum, and water

Fracturing occurs naturally beneaths the earth's surface. Hydro fracturing does exactly what it sounds like: it uses water to create fractures so that natural gas, water, and petroleum can be extracted from below. Although much has been made of the chemicals used in fracturing, the vast majority of them are not harmful - like table salt and lemon juice. Moreover, water used in the process is recycled and harmful chemicals removed.

The process can lead to energy independence and cleaner, greener fuel

With America facing dependence on other nations for its energy needs, fracking actually offers the potential for freedom. The United States could become a net exporter of natural gas in less than a decade, and guess what? Natural gas is a cleaner-burning, more efficient alternative to some other energy-production methods. It produces only a fraction of the carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides as coal.

Natural gas production in America may depend on fracking

Did you know that fracking may eventually account for 70% of natural gas production in the United States? The surprises don't stop there - over the next decade, four our of five natural gas wells drilled will require fracking. Without the process of hydrofracturing, nearly half of America's natural gas production and 17 percent of its oil production would be lost within five years - a staggering statistic, particularly if hydraulic fracturing is safe. And speaking of the safety of fracking.

The research shows that fracking seems to be extremely safe

Of the facts obscured in the debate over fracking, one may pose the most important implications: in the vast majority of hydraulic fracturing cases, the process has been deemed perfectly safe. Federal and state regulations, and EPA investigations, have found no reason to believe otherwise. Furthermore, the President on the American Council of Science and Health has concluded that no instances of adverse health effects have been documented as a result of fracking.

One of the loudest voices in the anti-fracking movement has 

been largely discredited

Gasland, a film seeking to expose the dangers of fracking, was determined to have been fraught with errors. The damage to the environment, communities, and personal health have been debunked by numerous investigations into the veracity of the film's claims. It's sensationalism at best, and doesn't always jibe with the facts of the matter.

For more detailed information, check out the great infographic by RankPop below, that further dispels rumors about the process of hydraulic fracturing and attempts to sent the record straight. There's still more to learn about fracking - but it certainly looks like the benefits outweigh the dubious costs.

The National Petroleum Institute forecasts 70% of U.S. natural gas will come from fracking
U.S. natural gas production is heavily dependent on fracking

About the author: Brandon William Peach is a writer across many topics, including religion, pop culture, literature, marketing, politics, human rights, and animal welfare. His work has been featured at RankPop, RELEVANT Magazine, Lure of Mac, I Think I Believe, Existimatum, and much more. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonPeach.

* Infographic: Author owned and licensed