Pros and Cons of Natural Gas Drilling in the Drillers Are Coming by Mark Fischetti

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In his article The Drillers Are Coming Mark Fischetti examines the pros and cons of the natural gas drilling procedure known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. He also discusses the Marcellus formation, a shale deposit that stretches from New York to Tennessee (Fischetti, 2010).
According to the article, the Marcellus formation could potentially provide the United States with enough natural gas for the next 40 years if consumption rates stay at the present rates (Fischetti, 2010). Fischetti discusses the current political pressures to achieve energy dependence from overseas countries and mentions that natural gas could be a cleaner alternative to coal. Natural gas discharges 40 percent less carbon dioxide than its smoky counterpart (Fischetti, 2010). With these findings newer technologies are being developed to increase the amount of gas that can be extracted. These cost effective horizontal drilling procedures are quickly spreading across the country. This fact is evident in Pennsylvania where the number of wells drilled increased from only two in 2005 to 768 in 2009 (Fischetti, 2010).
Fischetti indicates, however, that concerns have been brought to light regarding the negative impact that this relatively new horizontal drilling procedure known as slickwater hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for short, has on the environment and on people’s health. Fracking consists of forcing large amounts of freshwater and chemicals down the wells to fracture rocks and release the natural gas stored within them. Consequently, substantial amounts of tainted water flow back up. The author describes an air-quality study done by Texas’ Commission on Environmental Quality in 2009 in which they found benzene, xylene, and other toxins exc...

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...s of jobs and improve the economic situation of many families. Furthermore, this could be a great step towards solving the energy dependence issue of the US. On the other hand, it could contaminate our groundwater and create a health hazard to the families living around these fracking sites. This paper raises the question of whether or not our country can have access to cheap energy while also having access to our vital natural resources. I find that this is a question that is often at the center of discussions nowadays. For some reason affordable energy and a clean environment are always on opposite teams. It is either one or the other. I wonder if a day will ever come in which we can choose to have both.

Works Cited

Fischetti, M. (2010, July). The drillers are coming. Scientific American, 303(1), 82-85.
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