US AND UK'S ATTITUDES ON HYDRAULIC FRACTURING

by aframoaa on November 26, 2014 - 11:37pm

               US and UK’S Public Opinion about Fracking (Group 2)

One of the largest national concerns for all countries is the ability to create enough energy to drive the economy. Unfortunately most sources of fuel are considerably dirty in terms of the pollution caused by the extraction and burning of sources of fuel such as fossil fuels. Although not all fossil fuels are equally polluting and the shift towards cleaner energy is a primary focus among many developed nations around the world. Therefore one of the driving factors towards the promotion of the use of shale gas is the shift in ideology of using cleaner fuel sources. This applies not only to the United States but also to the United Kingdom. Another factor that is important to consider is that shale gas is more expensive overall in US than coal and petroleum but the desire by nations such as the US and UK to develop energy self-sufficiency and cleaner energy outweighs the short-term cost. Hydraulic fracturing which is commonly called racking is the process whereby extraction of shale gas is done by injecting water, silt sand and mixture of chemicals deep into the earth in high pressure to realise the flow of trapped shale gas into drilled well due to low permeability for extraction.

The politics that surround shale gas energy production heavily influence major decision making on all levels of policy. In the US the Democratic Party generally views the use of shale gas an unrealistic approach to combating energy demands and climate change. Their opinions are based around the environmental harm that the fracking process produces. Generally, Republicans view fracking as beneficial despite the environmental concerns. They fully promote the production of shale gas as cleaner than fossil fuels but also quite abundant and with large economic potential. Despite that fracking generally produces short-term economic benefits until the extraction is done and then that area experiences a severe decline in the economy. For the political parties of the UK it appears that the Liberal Democratic Party is the most enthusiastic about fracking based on the Liberal Democratic Conference in 2013. The conservative party is less enthusiastic towards fracking but still want to promote its implementation because of it is economically good for UK. While the Labour party feels strongly against fracking basing its ideas on research of fracking and its consequences. They suggested a 12 month period to study the potential for fracking.

In the United States the potential for fracking is fairly high based on the large deposits found underneath the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations. States such as North Dakota and Pennsylvania has high potential for extraction but limited resources in terms of the quantities of water needed for the extraction process. The United States has large quantities of shale gas which by fracking production has reduced energy importation from the foreign countries. The potential for energy self-sufficiency for the UK from shale gas is significant. The key concerns of fracking are similar in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Primary concern is based around the pollution of water, soil, and air in surrounding regions where fracking has occurred. Studies in both the US and UK have shown at least 8 volatile compounds such as Benzene that violate Federal Standards. Concerns have also been raised towards the waste management of fracking and the long-term effects such as radioactivity associated with fracking chemicals. Another large problem associated with fracking is the enormous quantities of water used in the process of fracking. Fracking contributes to a lot of dispute over private land rights as well. In the UK the fracking areas discovered may lead to fracking literally underneath homes with no regards to land rights. Cities like Bristol, Blackpool, Bath, London etc. are likely to be affected. The production and use of shale gas has proved to be an international issue that affects various undeniable rights such as private property, clean water, and proper disposal of waste chemicals. Although shale gas fracking does provide beneficial opportunity to the economy if managed properly, keeping people and ecosystems in mind. Public and media perceptions on fracking are influenced greatly by demographic and geographic regions. This can be seen in regions that have potential to be fracked. Generally people do not support fracking as they will have direct effects seen in their communities. While people from regions that have limited potential generally support fracking as they will reap the benefits from it but not the negative effects of fracking because they are afar off from the extraction zone. Unfortunately media representations of fracking almost and always correlate with public opinion whether the media is true or false. In general most people do not see fracking as a viable alternative to conventional fossil fuels. Also the media focuses primarily on the negative effects of fracking such as pollution.

The focus on realistic alternative to fossil fuels in general should be the main focus of developed nations such as the US and UK. Possible alternatives for both nations are biofuels developed not from corn but from native grasses and plants. This option is more likely for the United States. Although wind energy is realistic for the UK as they have large areas of coast with consistent winds. Unfortunately the idea of drastically altering energy production is not realistic and continuous long-term efforts for renewable energy must be made to provide carbon free energy for the future while good measures are put in place to reduce the public’s idea of being against fracking totally.

Comments

Great! Very thorough review. Did your group members generally agree? What are your personal views on fracking?

Maybe the most realistic approach for both countries is to utilize fracking's potential in areas that would be less effected and more vacant while alternative options are being created. It seems like at least for a while the answer won't be an all out change in energy sources but a mixture of both renewable and non renewable resources until we come up with the ultimate solution.

About the author

Hi All,