Fracking Proliferation

As of a few days ago, the United States is no longer the only country in the world to produce natural gas through the process of hydraulic fracking.  The United Kingdom just approved IGas to begin their first fracking well just 7 days ago (Follett).

Image result for fracking UK

Many people are in strong opposition of this move to allow fracking; however due to money and the release of the natural resource, the government had no choice but to allow its extraction for commercial use.  The UK is attempting to reduce its carbon footprint in the form of reducing the use of coal.  Natural gas is a better source of carbon because it is significantly cleaner when burned, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.   Although fracking is not a perfect solution to going green, it is at least a step in the right direction toward improvement.

Interestingly enough, the government gave IGas permission to explore the land for natural gas, by doing everything up to, but not including, drilling.  There was debate over whether or not the companies should have permission to do this, and it was only allowed in certain areas (“Fracking in Lancashire…”).  Some local governments see this as an opportunity to increase the rate of collection of natural gas, but others see it as pollution on many fronts such as noise and traffic.

Although the governments may be on board with fracking now, the people are definitely not accepting this change in policy.  As you can see in the image below, there are quite a few locations of hydraulic fracking on the map.  The propaganda on the left of the map itself uses a play on words, similar to the play on words that I used in the title of this blog.  Applying this to rhetoric, the use of the play on words draws in the audience to pay attention to what the map is saying.

This map makes it very clear that there are many dangers of fracking through the use of red color and certain images on the map.

According the the United Kingdom’s governmental website, citizens of the UK need energy in every aspect of their lives.  They use it for heating, lighting, transportation, and even in the industry.  Some statistics were also provided in the article from 2015.  The statics are as follows: Over 1/3 of the UK’s energy came from natural gas, and another third from oil. Coal (13%), nuclear (7%), and renewables – mostly biomass and wind (10%) – supplied the rest (“Guidance on Fracking…”).

The locations from which natural gas comes is mainly outside countries other than the UK itself.  Just over two fifths of this natural gas came from the North Sea and Irish Sea. All of the other natural gas used by the country is imported form countries such as Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands via pipelines (“Guidance on Fracking…”).  If it is shipped, it also comes from Qatar, Algeria, Trinidad & Tobago and Nigeria as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). The government hopes to alleviate some of this dependence on other countries by allowing fracking in their own country to increase its production (“Guidance on Fracking…”).

To put numbers in perspective, Bowland-Hodder shale in northern England is some 1300 trillion cubic feet, as a central estimate (“Guidance on Fracking…”).  This is a significant amount of natural gas that can significantly reduce the UK’s dependence on foreign natural gas.

Similarly, this is the same reason that the United States is increasing fracking production within the country.  The United States wants to stop its dependence on foreign fossil fuels that come from areas of the world known to house terrorists.  This is a very popular belief to the public, and is often the origin of many pro-fracking activists.  Others, who focus on the environment, believe that There is nothing good that will come out of fracking except pollution of the ground water and air.  There is still much research that must be conducted before fracking is encouraged by all, and hated by many.  Until then, there will be a lot of controversy that cannot be eliminated regardless of the needs of the country, or the individual.

Works Cited

Follett, Andrew. “UK Starts Drilling First Fracking Wells.” The Daily Caller. The Daily Caller, 23 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

“Fracking in Lancashire given Go-ahead by Government.” BBC News. BBC, 06 Oct. 2016. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

“Guidance on Fracking: Developing Shale Gas in the UK.” GOV.UK. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, 13 Jan. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

Carcinogenic Properties

The most common evidence that anti-fracking protesters use is the fact that the fracking fluid is extremely toxic.  As I have previously stated, there are over 750 different chemicals that are pumped into the ground under extremely high pressures (Mellino).  Not all chemicals are bad, in that there are many other processes that require exuberant amount of chemicals.  Fracking, however, is not harmless.  Fracking uses some chemicals that are toxic to the body of all plants and animals, so toxic that they are known carcinogens.  If the chemicals do not have carcinogenic properties, then some of them are known to cause acute shortness of breath, chemical burns, blindness, or even death.Image result for fracking chemicals

Of the 750 known chemicals used in fracking fluid, there are the same number, if not more chemicals used in the fluid that have left to be identified.  The oil companies found a loophole in governmental policies so that they only have to report a certain number, or a certain percentage, of the chemicals used.  One law, Section 313 of the EPCRA authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which is a list of toxic chemicals available to the public that must be reported annually by specific industries and facilities (“Chemicals & Public Disclosure.”).  Luckily for the gas and oil companies, they are not included under this TRI, which means under this law they are not obligated to release the contents of their fracking fluid at full disclosure to the public.Image result for fracking chemicals

The companies, however, did run into difficulty when Josh Fox made the production Gas Land.  This film exposed some of the harmful effects of fracking, specifically the leakage of fracking fluid into the ground water supplies of locals.  This was seen when he put a match close to the water pouring out of a sink, and the water “caught on fire”.  The key in this situation is not that the water itself caught on fire, but that the contents, or contaminants, inside the water caught on fire.  These contaminants could be some of the methane (natural gas) that the fracking is used to produce.  When there is a leak in the concrete piping, the contents, including the natural gas, can leak into the groundwater supply.

Following the production of this documentary, many decided to attempt to debunk the validity of the film in order to justify the means of the gas companies.  One source claimed that Fox overexaggerated all of the facts that he used in order to create a greater impact (“GasLand.”).  People would be more weary of the gas companies and hopefully prevent them from drilling in their local land.  For sure, Josh Fox was an advocate of the environment, and the debunking articles are backing the gas companies hoping to keep them in business.

After the production of the second GasLand production, GasLand 2, there were more reliable sources that claimed Fox was exaggerating to an extreme, where much of what he was saying was invalid.  Forbes wrote an article claiming that Fox was a Technophobe, and was working against the natural progress of the world (Epstein).  Many argue that Fox was not against fracking itself, but against the way that fracking is completed in current times.  Wind and solar power can go on forever and does not affect the environment negatively whatsoever.  Fracking, however, has its positive aspects such as releasing trapped natural gas from deep in marcellus shale formations, but the negatives outweigh the positives for now.  Until the positives begin to outweigh the negatives, it is unlikely there will be the support necessary for fracking to continue without resistance.  Many sources claim that fracking is becoming safer for the environment; however, until this point it is unlikely fracking will gain the attention that it needs to continue producing large quantities of natural gas.

There is great promise for the fracking process, but as of now, there are too many negative aspects that are more popular than the positive aspects of extracting natural gas.

Works Cited

“Chemicals & Public Disclosure.” FracFocus: Chemical Disclosure Registry, GWPC & IOGCC, 2017, Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.

Epstein, Alex. “Gasland II’s Luddite Slander Of ‘Fracking’ Is The Latest Technophobe Attack On Progress.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 19 July 2013, Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.

“GasLand.” Documentary Case Studies: Behind the Scenes of the Greatest (True) Stories Ever Told, doi:10.5040/ Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.


Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

The deliberation that I decided to attend was about safe sex and sexual abuse.  I chose this topic because I thought it was one of the most relevant topics here on a college campus.  In addition to the students, I thought one of the best parts of the deliberation was the involvement of the audience.  There was one specific individual that I felt added very important information to the deliberation.  I will talk more about the specifics of this individual.

The first approach for this deliberation was very important.  Since there are a lot of terms in relation to sexual violence, the definitions set the background that was needed for the other approaches to build off of.  These definitions, ranging in source, were very specific.  For example, the definition of rape was extremely specific.  Many of these definitions I was unaware of because I did not know the specific definition for each act committed.

The other approaches were very interesting because they involved the students on campus, as well as the campus administration.  One of the most interesting aspects to these approaches, for me, were some of the notification systems that I had never heard of.  In addition to the text messages that I get, the “Timely Warnings”, there are two other main sources of notification.  The fact that I have never heard of them made me wonder the purpose of these notifications.

One of the discussions revolved around the frequency in which the notifications are sent out.  There are multiple warnings sent out every week, sometimes every day.  This seems to decrease the severity of the impact that the warnings have on students.  The higher the frequency that the alerts are sent out, the less people seem to notice them.  This has a negative effect, and it makes me wonder whether the warnings should be sent out at the frequency that they are.

The police officer that attended the deliberation brought up a very interesting topic, the university is obliged to notify all students and staff when there is a report.  Regardless when the act occurred, the notification must be sent out.  Furthermore, most people do not want to admit all of the information, and the qualities of the individuals are all “unknown”.  Here is an example of a common report.

Race: Unknown

Sex: Unknown

Height: Unknown

Weight: Unknown

Hair Color: Unknown

Eye Color: Unknown

Age: Unknown

Additional Description: No physical descriptors of the suspect were provided.

Since there is no actual information provided in these reports, most people pay no attention to the reports.  Again, this decreases the impact of the notifications which is counter productive.  Overall, this deliberation opened my eyes to the specific types of sexual harrassments, by putting the specific name to the act.  Furthermore, it was interesting to hear the point of view of the students directly before and after the information provided by the police officer – an official.

Show Me The Money

One of the most prominent reasons that alternative energy resources are becoming increasingly important is not necessarily for the environment, but to become independent of foreign oil resources abroad.  These resources often come from the Middle East, where the relations with the United States are not exactly the most friendly.  Furthermore, striking this dependence in the butt would lead to a greater trust in the resources found within the country, and a greater trust of the country itself.  It is no secret that these countries from where the US is getting oil is known for terrorism, the same terrorists that have attacked the US in the past.  Becoming independent from these countries is a step in the right direction, and as we can see, the dependence on oil from the middle east is steadily decreasing.

Image result for where the us gets oil

One of the best conceptual means to alternative energy is fracking, and make sure it is clear that this is only conceptual.  The actual way that fracking is completed is harmful to the environment in a plethora of ways, but for the sake of this blog, please ignore them.  It is important to focus on the potential of fracking, so that we can work our way towards a cleaner way of fracking.  According to CNN Money on March 24, 2016, the United States received just 3% of its energy from natural gas, specifically from fracking.  This miniscule amount did not add up to anything; however it was a step in the right direction.  To grasp the concept of how fracking has grown to become more dependent on foreign oil, take a look at the picture below.fracking output

Clearly there is a clear increase in fracking frequency in the United States, and it must be for a reason.  Natural gas is an excellent alternative to oil, and is one step closer to completely renewable resources.  Furthermore, a way to get even more money out of fracking would be taxing the gas companies per well, or per barrel.

According to StateImpact, a member of National Public Radio, a severance tax would be an excellent way to gain excess funds for the state, as well as discourage people from creating more wells.  This tax, although might seem counterproductive, would give producers more incentive to work with gas than oil because the tax is less.  Working toward even more renewable resources would decrease this tax indefinitely to have a 0% severance tax.

One aspect to fracking that I was unaware of was the political dispute involved with fracking.  According to the New York Times on February 9, 2016, there were many million-dollar donors for the 2016 presidential election.  When scrutinizing these donors, you can see that there are many “individuals” that gain all of their money from fracking.  Most people do not see that these individuals associated with fracking were endorsing presidential candidates; however, if one begins to look up some of the candidates, you will find there are many.  If you are interested in looking at these individuals, click here.

This means that people are giving money to politicians to help put forward fracking.  This may have been good because it would have increased the amount of funding brought into the sector; at the same time, it could be negative because there could be less regulations on the process causing a greater negative impact on the environment.

If evaluating the regulations on fracking, there seems to be a loophole in the system.  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 may seem like a good plan; however regulations are only present if diesel fuel is used in the fracking fluid.  Thankfully, President Obama saw this loophole and set a course to close it during his presidency.  According to the New York Times on March 20, 2016, the legislation put in place was not just to set the regulations, but also to encourage the companies to set their own regulations.Image result for regulations on fracking

Hopefully, greater regulation on fracking will create enough incentive for companies to start working in a more clean fashion, which will enable more fracking.  This enables more fracking because less people will be opposed to it, specifically those concerned about the environment.


Works Cited

Cusick, Marie. “States Should Put Fracking Money in Trust Funds, Says New Report.” NPR, NPR, 19 Apr. 2016,
Davenport, Coral. “New Federal Rules Are Set for Fracking.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Mar. 2015,
Egan, Matt. “Oil Milestone: Fracking Fuels Half of U.S. Output.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, 24 Mar. 2016,
“Million-Dollar Donors in the 2016 Presidential Race.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 Feb. 2016,

What the Frack is Going On?

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as defined by Oxford Dictionaries, is the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks, boreholes, etc. so as to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas.  In the United States specifically, fracking refers to the extraction of natural gas.  There main positive aspect that arises from fracking is the collection of methane (CH4), or natural gas.  Citizens around the country use this product as much as 33% of their total energy usage, says the United States Energy Information Administration.  Before getting into the specific uses natural gas, we must first evaluate the plethora of negative effects of hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking, as previously defined, is the process of injecting high pressure liquid; often this liquid is laced with as many as 750 different chemicals, many of them characterized as carcinogenic (Mellino).  Furthermore, some of these chemicals are known to cause shortness of breath, chemical burns, blindness, or even death.  For many years, drilling companies refused to release the list of chemicals that they were using; many people believe they refused so they would not have to face the consequences of using such harsh and deleterious chemicals.  Regardless, other concerns than simply affecting humans and causing cancer is the contamination of clean drinking water.

As you can imagine, if fracking is occurring at depths of about six to eight thousand feet beneath the Earth’s surface.  Taking a brief look at the image below, you can see the tanker trucks moving on the surface of the ground, acting as transportation units for natural gas, water, sand, or any of the other reactants or products for the process.  That truck is the average 18-wheeler tractor trailer.  This can give you an estimate of how deep the drilling is taking place.

Viewing the zoomed in portion of the image above, there is a layer of water that the drilling must surpass in order to reach the depths necessary of the rock formations containing natural gas.  This is where water contamination not only has the potential to occur, but does occur.  Drilling companies can add as many layers of concrete as they want; however, the immense pressure of 9000 pounds per square inch at minimum make it extremely difficult to contain liquids at such immense pressures (McGraw).

Taking a look back at why fracking is occurring, it is important to evaluate the potential uses of natural gas.  The first use is the production of electricity through gas turbines (“Uses of Natural Gas.”).  The reason for this production increase is in accordance to its cleanliness compared to coal, and efficiency compared to other electrical producing methods.  Approximately one third of all captured natural gas is used in the residential sector of the country, mainly for heating and cogeneration.  This fancy term, cogeneration, is the combination of heating and energy production through the use of natural gas, which can take place in your home at the same time (“Uses of Natural Gas.”).  Also, stoves and ovens use natural gas, which is more efficient than all other methods of cooking by those means.  There are many other uses that arise from natural gas as time moves forward, more uses that scientists discover.

All of these uses seem to make a convincing argument for the continued collection of natural gas.  This should be the case, however, the negative side effects are just too significant.  A song on youtube, “My Water’s On Fire Tonight”, is a product of Studio 20 NYU in May of 2011.  This video explains some of the harms of fracking, as well as attaching a catchy melody that can carry on the negative mentality of fracking with anyone that decides to view the video.

There are many positive and negative effects of fracking, and it is important to consider both sides of the argument when deciding whether or not fracking is an acceptable means of harvesting natural gas.  There is no telling where the future of natural gas collection will take the country, but many the number of people anti-fracking seem to have a stronger argument than that of the affirmation.  I look forward to continuing this evaluation of fracking, and exploring how it plays a role in the health or harm of individuals and continuation of society’s technological advancing movement.


Works Cited

“DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), HYDROTREATED LIGHT.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 July 2014,

“Fracking.” Oxford Living Dictionaries, Oxford University Press,

McGraw, Seamus, and John Wenz. “The 10 Most Controversial Claims About Fracking.” Popular Mechanics, Hearst Communications, Inc., 23 Aug. 2016,

Mellino, Cole. “EPA Report Finds Nearly 700 Chemicals Used in Fracking.” EcoWatch, EcoWatch, 1 Apr. 2015,

“U.S. Energy Information Administration.” What Is U.S. Electricity Generation by Energy Source? – FAQ – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. Department of Energy, 1 Apr. 2016,

“Uses of Natural Gas.” Natural Gas Uses: Electric Power, Industry, Vehicles, Homes,,

“Uses of Natural Gas.” Union of Concerned Scientists, Union of Concerned Scientists,