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The problems with fracking (part 3)

NEW YORK CITY, 2013: Protesters rally against fracking, an environmentally dubious method of extracting natural gas October 19 2013 in New York City (Editorial credit: a katz / shutterstock.com)
Water contamination thought by some to be caused by fracking is another concern exacerbated by the California drought -- and the continued depletion of the resource's availability across the globe.

Originally published as a main feature story in Energy Digital's monthly magazine, this piece takes a head-on approach to the top arguments against fracking in order to separate fact from fiction. Click here to read the entire article. 

In the first post of this 4-part web series, we explored Argument No. 1: Fracking will worsen climate change.  In the second post, we explored Argument No. 2: Renewable energy is replacing fossil fuels and non-renewable energy.

As we continue to explore the five main arguments behind the "problems" with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, it only seems fitting to combine Argument No. 3 and Argument No. 4, as both pertain to the same element: water.  

RELATED TOPIC: CMWU: delivering world class water services

Argument #3: Fracking contaminates ground and surface water. 
There has long been concerns that fracking may cause chemicals that are potentially carcinogenic to escape, contaminating the ground water near the fracking site.

This concern was brought to a frenzy when a Colorado man lit the water coming from his kitchen faucet on fire in the 2010 documentary, GasLand.

RELATED TOPIC: Fracking the way to energy independence

And while GasLand was nominated for an Academy Award, that particular scene was somewhat misrepresented, whether done unknowingly or intentionally. Truthfully, it was the flammable water that propelled many into the anti-fracking controversy.

What viewers didn’t see was that Colorado officials conducted a full investigation and concluded that the nearby fracking wells were not to blame: The flammable material was coming from the man’s own water well which had been drilled into a pocket of methane, naturally occurring in the rock.

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That is not to say that incidents have not happened.

In May 2013, Chesapeake Energy was fined USD$1 million by Pennsylvania officials who claimed that their fracking operations caused the contamination of water supplies for 16 Bradford County families. The contamination, however, was not the result of fracking itself, but from improperly cemented boreholes that allowed gas to seep out.

Argument #4: Fracking uses a tremendous amount of water.
With the California drought looming like a dark cloud over the U.S.—not to mention the numerous droughts in other parts of the world— the massive amount of water that is used in fracking is causing great concern.

RELATED TOPIC: [INFOGRAPHIC] How to meet water and energy needs

According to the EPA, between 70 and 140 billion gallons of water were used for fracking in 2011. When isolated as a single statistic, this sounds rather daunting: That is a lot of water used that can’t be reused.

However, when you compare it to how many gallons of water are used to water American lawns each year, the water used for fracking looks like a drop in the bucket.

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Click here to read the September issue of Energy Digital magazine, and look for the October 2015 edition, coming soon!

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