Hydraulic fracturing is a technique mainly used for extraction of oil and gas through pumping a pressured liquid to fracture rocks (Spellman, 110). The pressurized liquid is normally a mixture of water, proppant (for instance sand), and chemicals (Tiemann and Vann, 1). Due to its efficiency, especially in low permeability areas, the technique is widely used. The primary legal issue arising out of the use of the technique is the lack of or limited regulation of the technique. For a long period, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has had no authority over hydraulic fracturing.
The lack of legal regulation means that there a little or no standards for the use of the technique. Therefore, a company can do just about anything, notwithstanding the ramifications. Closely related to this is that since there is no sufficient regulation, making companies accountable for the action is onerous. Consequently, this presents a problem as a company may adversely use the technique, and get away with it.
The primary environmental issue is the impact the technique has on the environment. The technique poses several environmental dangers such as polluting groundwater, relocation of the chemicals to the surface, diminution of fresh water, among others (Spellman, 141). Additionally, the use of the techniques causes air and noise pollution. There are also concerns of the long term effect of the chemicals to the surrounding areas. The threat to the environment is made worse by the lack of or limited regulation of the technique, especially by the body tasked with environmental protection.
The foregoing notwithstanding, hydraulic fracturing plays a key role in meeting the nation’s energy needs, present and future. It is not in doubt that conventional oil and gas resources have greatly been depleted. Hydraulic fracturing thus suffices as the best option to extract the unconventional resources. Accordingly, the ever increasing demand of these resources can only be met by use of this technique. Additionally, the technique also enhances the overall production of oil and gas. In conclusion therefore, the technique is pertinent in meeting the nation’s energy needs.
Spellman, Frank. Environmental Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing. FL: Taylor & Francis Group,
Tiemann, Mary and Adam Vann. “Hydraulic Fracturing and Safe Drinking Water Act Issues.”
Congressional Research Service, April 15, 2011.