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What is Fracking? Fracking is a mechanical and chemical means of opening fissures in rock to allow the escape of petroleum products such as oil and natural gas (methane). Fracking has been around for more than 150 years. The process used in fracking has evolved over those years to produce higher yields of product. The first commercial oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania by Edwin Drake in 1859. Since that first well was drilled different methods have been experimented with to increases the production rate of the wells. The methods used included injecting different liquids in the 1860’s. Explosives were even tried in order to fracture the rocks. In the 1930’s acid was used to etch or widen the crevasses in the rock. Modern day fracking began when the drilling company, Halliburton, patented a process called Hydraulic fracturing in 1949. That basic process has been used since then with some variation. The process of fracking produces large quantities of toxic byproducts. If these byproducts aren’t processed correctly they can lead to environmental issues. Other forms of energy production, such as coal mining and nuclear power have their own environmental issues. Over all, natural gas production has far less environmental impact than traditional coal produced energy. Richardson, J, Analyst at CohnReznick Think Energy Stanford University, 2014 Environmental costs, health risks, and benefits of fracking examined.

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            There has been a lot of debate lately about the pro’s and con’s of hydraulic fracturing used to exploit the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania and New York. Two areas of concern are the air pollution caused by fracking and the amount of water used in the process.             As much as 1 to 8 million gallons of water are used for each well. That seems like a lot but it’s only about half as much water as used to produce the same amount of energy created by coal.

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