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I stand against fracking, for now. The environmental impacts of fracking are muddled and hotly debated. The foremost concern is the health of the local population and the fertility of the land surrounding the fracked area, as they show the most immediate and visceral effects of fracking. The contamination of the water supply and soil by VOCs and heavy metals damages human health and crops for years to come. Even a remote potential to turn an area into a deadzone for both people and crops into the foreseeable future is cause enough for us to want to slow its onslaught across the US. Why rush to expand the industry so quickly? The natural gas isn’t going anywhere. So why not let the contamination percolate through the area and run some studies five or ten years down the line?
While a 0.02 °F rise in average global temperature in one year is so miniscule in the human mind that it might as well be nil, an energy bill that falls substantially in a year can make a huge impression on people; especially when they’re still suspicious of the economy so soon after a significant downturn. It’s true that putting the brakes on a fracking boom could hurt the wallet in the short term, but no one is claiming that the economy will be pushed into crisis without it.
The potential foreign affairs calamities that could be precipitated by remaining begrudgingly linked to antagonistic petro states, or the technological leaps that could come out a fracking-fueled economy are wild speculations that cannot be fit into any sensible scientific, statistical analysis of the problem. All that we can do is attempt to counter the measurable adverse effects on human health and the environment.
The idea of expanding the petro industry to act as a “bridge” to green energy seems to be a bunk idea as well. It’s more like a junkie getting a couple more needle loads of heroin into their system before they have to face sobriety. The end result is a temporary high and a forestalled withdrawal period. In fracking’s case, what it gets us is more environmental damage and a few more years merrily skating along in easy petro dependence. A cultural change is what’s needed to affect a real shift in energy solutions, and it seems like a hard comedown off of fossil fuels is all that’s going to accomplish that at this point. Necessity is the mother of invention, and seeing double digit gas prices and a three-fold increase in electric bills would likely count as necessity. Fracking is just a way to push off the withdrawal at the cost of the environment.