Pro and con: Two middle schoolers debate fracking

     A drill rig owned by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, is shown. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY, file)

    A drill rig owned by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, is shown. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY, file)

    Students in Katherine Cohen’s 7th-grade English class at Greenberg Elementary in Northeast Philadelphia were assigned the task of writing a persuasive letter. These two students wrote opposing opinions about fracking, a highly charged topic in Pennsylvania.

    Students in Katherine Cohen’s 7th-grade English class at Greenberg Elementary in Northeast Philadelphia were assigned the task of writing a persuasive letter. These two students wrote opposing opinions about fracking, a highly charged topic in Pennsylvania.

    This is a sample of what 12-year-olds are thinking about a difficult topic at a time when they are forming opinions of the world around them — testing those opinions, shaping who they will become as adults. It’s the next generation of thinkers. Is either student on the right track? If you could sit down with each of these two, what would you tell them about what they got right and what they got wrong?

    Meriem Cherqaoui: Fracking benefits for our future

    Did you know an average American spends more money on gas that is brought in from unsafe countries, while the U.S. has natural gas reserves beneath underground rocks? However, the gas could never be pulled out until now, thanks to a new approach called hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is when gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped underground to break apart the rocks and retrieve the gas. Sounds good right? It also has many benefits. Therefore, fracking is a great idea and should be considered more in the United States.

    One of the benefits of fracking is it is good for our economy. It will not only lower the energy prices for many homeowners, but also provide more jobs for those in need. Also, it has led the U.S in the recent boom in natural gas production, which is up more than one third since 2005. Therefore, it is clear that fracking has been a great help to our economy.

    Another reason why fracking is beneficial is it will make the U.S, more secure. There will be a less need to import gas from other countries. Think of how much better it would be to not have to worry about the risks of receiving oil from other countries that may have unstable governments. This is making the U.S safer.

    Furthermore, fracking causes less pollution. U.S Power plants’ carbon pollution rate has decreased less than it has been in the last twenty years, because of the increase in fracking. This is because natural gas burns much cleaner than other energy sources like oil or coal. Also, there has been a 70 percent cut in pollutants that create smog such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Therefore, the air we breath will be much healthier due to fracking.

    Finally, many people question if fracking is a risk to our water, because that would be a great concern. However fracking is very unlikely to contaminate water. Landmark federal studies show that the chemicals used to free the oil stay thousands of feet below the shallow areas were we receive our drinking water. What a relief! Can you believe all the benefits fracking has, and yet it will not harm the water we drink?

    These are the reasons why fracking is a great idea and should continue in the United States. Once you consider how fracking is good for the economy, makes our country healthier and more secure, and will not contaminate the water we drink, it should be obvious that fracking is a great idea and will hopefully be part of our energy future. Also, keep in mind that it is managed with great precision so that it does not affect the environment. Something you could do to help fracking be continued in the United States is support laws to increase fracking.

    Sources:

    DOE study: Fracking chemicals didn’t taint water,” by Kevin Begos, Associated Press
    Fracking puts U.S. first in shale gas production,” by Wendy Koch, USA Today
    Is fracking our energy future?” by Daniel Whitten and Frances Beinecke, Upfront magazine

     

     

     

    Savannah Mueller: The many dangers of fracking

    Companies are using a brand new, innovative technique to extract oil and natural gas. It is called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Sounds great, right? Wrong. Although it may seem alright on the surface when you dig deeper you see serious problems with this process. Fracking requires companies to pump water deep underground, enabling them to get to difficult to reach places containing oil and natural gas. However, these companies are permitted to operate with very few regulations putting the safety and well being of local communities at risk. The process pollutes the air, contaminates water, and causes harm to communities. Fracking is a danger to us and our environment and we must put a stop to it.

    First of all, fracking causes water pollution that can harm our environment. Duke University found a river containing radioactive water from fracking sites. They also found that Blacklick Creek, which was located by a facility where fracking waste was released, was 200 times more radioactive than sediment farther upstream. The Josephine Brine Treatment facility, which disposes of the wastewater, is only an hour away from Pittsburgh. Research has also shown that fracking fluids not being discharged into public waterways are being released underground and have been known to cause earthquakes. If the water is not cleaned properly it could cause serious environmental problems in the future.

    Secondly, fracking pollutes the drinking water in wells. Another Duke University study performed in 2013 showed that fracking caused methane contamination in drinking water wells. It was six times more likely that wells would be contaminated by a fracking site than a non-fracking site. As a result, wells less than 1,000 feet from a site had the greatest chance of being contaminated or experiencing contamination in the future. Sadly, methane is only one of the many chemicals resulting from fracking that is polluting our drinking water.

    Lastly, fracking pollutes the air with toxic chemicals that can result in health problems. A Colorado study found that air near sites was filled with cancer causing chemicals that increase the incidence of leukemia and many other health problems. Consequently, the closer one lives to a fracking site, the higher the chance to be a victim of the by products produced in the fracking process. Despite all of this information and recent studies, many states allow companies to drill 150 feet from communities full of people, placing profits over and above safety. We cannot live in a healthy environment as long as fracking remains under regulated without proper safety precautions.

    As you can now clearly see, fracking is a danger to the environment and many American civilians. It harms the water in our environment, pollutes our drinking water, and can cause devastating health problems. Due to our wind and solar resources, there is no need for fracking to produce energy. Use these safe ways to receive energy in your home to keep the world you live in healthy and clean. Say no to fracking and help keep your family and your environment safe today.

    Sources:

    Fracking linked to radioactive river water in Pa.,” by Wendy Koch, USA Today
    Fracking linked to well water methane,” by Dan Vergano, USA Today
    Is fracking our energy future?” by Daniel Whitten and Frances Beinecke, Upfront magazine

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