In the Wrath of Khan, Spock risked his life to save the Enterprise because it was the most logical choice. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. Is this the case with Fracking?
Fracking is a natural gas drilling technique combining horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. This combination allowed Geologist Bill Zagorski to successfully drill into the Marcellus Shale and start the natural gas boom.
Fracking is booming in Pennsylvania and may spread to New York. The revenue from the Marcellus Shale has helped reverse some of the damage done by the decline of Pennsylvania’s coal mining industry. Revenues brought on by the development of the Marcellus shale contributed $7.1 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy in 2010. The annual revenue generated by fracking for the state of Pennsylvania is projected to reach $42.4 billion by 2035.
Natural gas fell back into favor after the nuclear energy industry took a hit from the Fukushima disaster.
The natural gas boom created thousands of jobs inside the United States, and will likely create more in order to keep up with the world’s growing energy demands. Optimistically, this will lead to a decrease on our dependence of foreign oil, and will also create an opportunity for us to sell our natural resources to developing nations such as China and India.
While some politicians are eager to see Pennsylvania become the “Texas of the natural gas boom”, the idea is not sitting well with environmentalists and local residents faced with negative aspects of a booming economy.
Residents close to the fracking zone have complained of air pollution and water contamination. Inhabitants of Jefferson County say they have experienced frequent headaches, fatigue, sore throats and eye and nose irritation when they went near oil and gas facilities.
In May 2012, methane gas seeped out of a faulty natural gas well in Bradford County. At least two residents had documented elevated levels of methane gas in their water supply.
Should the state take proper steps to keep the residents safe and healthy, fracking could be just what we need to help our economy. Creating jobs in safety and quality control to run air and water quality tests and prevent faulty gas wells could be a win-win situation.
If the government and the companies involved in the fracking industry address the safety concerns, the only problems left will be nuisance concerns. If increased traffic and noise in small patches of the country means thousands of jobs throughout the country, and natural resources throughout the world then I have to agree with Spock. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.