Fracking Fricks Western PA

As Pittsburgh tries to improve its environmental quality, the city still sees setbacks around the area, most notably with allowing fracking to occur. Fracking is the term for hydraulic fracturing, used to break about rocks in the ground in order to extract the oil or gas beneath them. In our case, the subterranean rock is Marcellus Shale.

Western PA has become a beacon for these fracking sites over the past few years. Butler, PA is home to more than 320 active wells and that number continues to go up. With the increase of sites comes more risk to the region.

Despite the financial benefits of extracting oil and gas, there are major negative environmental factors. Things such as smog production, soil pollution, methane gas emissions, are just some of the things that can be caused by fracking.

One of the largest issues that comes with fracking is water pollution. Since the shale is much deeper in the earth than underwater sources, these lines have to go through that layer. If the seals that are meant to keep the fluids and gases from mixing into the water fail, it leads to a major contamination of water that is often times used in people’s homes.

A Duke study linked “systematic evidence for methane contamination,” in drinking water to the 60 sites they examined in New York and Pennsylvania. This proves that these wells are not safe. There needs to be legislation put into place to get the situation under control. If these wells are to remain active, then there needs to be stricter guidelines as to what constitutes a shutdown.

If a well operator knows it has a leak, are they really going to shut down the well? The sad answer is probably not. The truth is that it is all about the money. That is all that people care about and that is going to be our environmental downfall. If these companies were more regulated, then there would be less conscientious decisions. If an infraction was caught, the well would be forced to fix the issue instantly before anything else. The problem is that this isn’t a perfect world and that probably won’t work. So should we shut down all of the wells?

If we do not address these issues soon, we may have a similar issue as Flint, Michigan, which is still recovering. While fracking didn’t cause their issues, water contamination is not something to take lightly. Instead of reacting to an issue once it comes up, why don’t we be proactive and try to stop that issue from ever happening. This should be the goal, not raising some money in exchange for the destruction of our planet.

Western PA needs to stop allowing these companies to come in and destroy our environment. We need to stand up for ourselves and realize that the earth isn’t going to last unless we treat it with respect. That doesn’t include tearing it open and taking the little resources it has left for our own.

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