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Hydraulic Fracking and Methane Pollution in the US

Hydraulic fracking is increasingly becoming a standard practice for gas generation in the U.S. The country predominantly embraces shale oil and gas extractions following successful horizontal drilling techniques. Nonetheless, sustained fracturing has trigged certain factions of society to voice concerns over the need to shift from natural gas advancements to enhanced adoption of renewable energy. Whereas some sources link continued hydraulic operations to high global methane levels, other authorities discredit such claims, mentioning its benefits and how green completion method is efficaciously employed to lower possible methane seepage during boring.

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First, methane from shale surpass those emanating from biogenic sources. The high discharges from shale oil and gas following the commercialization of these products have substantially increased fossil-fuel emanations in recent times. During fracking, the gas leaks as a result of purposeful venting, flow back period, and blowdowns during emergencies. Reduced methane concentration is critical since climate systems react more quickly with the gas, thereby providing the best route for swiftly increasing the global warming rate (Howarth 335). Methane discharges also result in sustained low-level ozone, resulting in momentous destruction to food production and human health (Howarth 336). The investigation validates the correlation between the upsurge in methane and the booming fracking occurring in the country. The analysis shows methane chemical fingerprints in the increased global atmospheric methane levels. It further depicts methane as a powerful greenhouse gas, which heats the atmosphere faster than carbon dioxide, becoming a leading contributor to global warming. It recommends utilization of clean, renewable energy that conserves environment.

Second, National Geographic explains how thriving natural gas fracturing causes a surge of methane in the atmosphere. Through fossil fuel developments, the levels of methane being released into the sky have increased substantially (Leahy). The heightened activities in the oil and gas sector have triggered considerable concentrations of methane in the global atmosphere to levels that surpass the amounts produced by wetlands and cows. The major increase is a concern since the gas swiftly heats climate systems more than eighty times compared with similar amounts of carbon dioxide. The emitted methane changes to carbon dioxide after about twenty years and can last in the atmosphere for tens of decades.

Third, the developments of natural gas were meant to eradicate the harsh environmental effects associated with coal explorations. Fracking activities by oil and gas companies have obliterated some of climate merits of this new form of energy. Moreover, the shift from coal to natural gas has led to low carbon dioxide emissions but high methane emanations from sustained drilling, negating the realized gains (Storrow). To confirm the severity of the situation, a research established that about 3.7 percent of natural gas generated in some site in the Permian Basin leaked (Storrow). The released amount can match carbon dioxide that could have been produced in coal extraction.

Contrarily, Hydraulic fracking and methane emissions elicit controversy as seen in some authorities. The developments in the natural gas sector are impressive coupled with an array of benefits realized out of such operation (Davis 64). The claim that oil and gas drilling results in methane leaking are highly belligerent. Further examination is required to constrain uncertainty and have stoutly supported verdicts. In a well-managed scenario, fracturing does not result in methane emission. Nonetheless, the regulatory environment of gas and oil operations as broken, disjointed federalism that requires urgent attention (Davis 64). The state-level politics and economic contexts in various fracturing states largely contribute to the fragmented regulatory framework (Davis 67). Moreover, the public policy advantages outweigh the potentially destructive effects from fugitive methane discharges (Davis 63). Fracking activities offer abundant domestic energy, natural gas provides cleaner energy, and drilling operations lead to economic gains such as revenue generation, job creation, and infrastructure development.

Additionally, the recent increase in shale gas drilling in the U.S., facilitated by hydraulic fracking and horizontal puncturing to extract hydrocarbons in eccentric geological formations in tight sand or shale remains a constructive move. Even though issues of potential health, environmental, and climate change implications have been previously raised, the author asserts that existence of insignificant methane emissions from fracking activities. Drilling companies successfully deploy strategies and technologies such as green completion methods to lower possible methane seepage. Possible malfunctioning of the methane sampler could have led to its emission even though with limited implications (Alvarez et al. 2). Nonetheless, oil and gas drilling has proven to be safe with insignificant leaks of methane into the atmosphere.

In conclusion, hydraulic fracking and methane emissions is a highly contentious matter, and various groups have different positions on the issue. Numerous studies and reports link constant operations to the increased global atmospheric methane concentrations. They assert that fossil fuel production has substantially led to more methane levels in the sky than those from biogenic sources such as livestock and wetlands. Contrarily, other studies defend the practice, noting that drilling companies have elaborate measures that curb possible methane seepage coupled with the vast socio-economic benefits from the activity.

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Works Cited

Alvarez, Ramon, et al. “Possible Malfunction in Widely used Methane Sampler Deserves Attention but Poses Limited Implications for Supply Chain Emission.” Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, vol. 4, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-9.

Davis, Charles. “Fracking and Environmental Protection: An Analysis of US State Policies.” The Extractive Industries and Society, vol. 4, no. 1, 2017, pp. 63-68.

Howarth, Robert. “Ideas and Perspectives: Is Shale Gas a Major Driver of Recent Increase in Global Atmospheric Methane?” Biogeosciences, vol. 16, no. 15, 2019, pp. 3033-3046.

Leahy, Stephen. “Fracking Boom Tied to Methane Spike in Earth’s Atmosphere.” National Geographic, 2019.

Storrow, Benjamin. “Methane Leaks Erase Some of the Climate Benefits of Natural Gas.” Scientific American, 2020.

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