The Controversy over Fracking

After the midterm election, several environmental issues have been brought to the forefront of society causing heated debates over industrial stability versus public health. One of these issues is the drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation, which extends from West Virginia and eastern Ohio through Pennsylvania and into southern New York, through a method called fracking. Fracking is the process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals into wells buried deep under the ground. Eventually the constant deposits of this collection of substances break apart the shale rock and releases trapped gas. Currently, the Marcellus Shale formation is the biggest known deposit of natural gas in the nation. Controversy has sparked over the issue with the GOP taking over the U.S. House of Representatives, and with the increased probability that regulations to impose gas drilling will falter. Congress previously exempted fracking from the federal Clean Water Act in 2005. New Pennsylvanian Governor, Tom Corbett, has jumped at the chance to increase natural gas drilling without imposing gas-extraction taxes. Some feel this increase in drilling the Marcellus Shale will be an economic boon.

Opposition from environmentalists and local residents states that pollution levels will rise from this booming industry. Local homeowners have expressed concern with wells producing brown, foul-smelling water that is polluted with methane and other unknown chemicals. Water pollution has dramatically escalated in some parts of Pennsylvania, where some residents can light their taps on fire due to the buildup of methane that has seeped into their wells from drilling. With an alternative that could ultimately help the United States end their involvement in the international oil trade, it is likely natural gas drilling will continue at an expedited rate. However, how far will the nation go to further their industry and economy, while also compromising the health of the American people?

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