There's a lot of talk in the news lately about the practice of "fracking"...and before you ask, no, I'm not talking about an expletive from Battlestar Galactica.
The process of fracking (which is short for hydraulic fracturing) involves unearthing shale gas deposits via wells, which can make landowners rich but can have serious adverse affects on drinking water and the health of nearby residents. In fact, a moratorium has been placed on shale gas development in New York state until further study can be done on it by the Department of Environmental Conservation. North Carolina is having serious doubts about it, as well, with state regulators saying that because their natural gas reserves are much closer to groundwater than in other places, the risk for them is greater.
The problems that arise from fracking affect farmers in multiple ways; reports of well contamination are rampant on farms that have allowed contractors to come in to gain access to the gas, as well as loss of timber and croplands. In Louisiana, reports of several dairy cows becoming casualty to contaminated water have scared off some people from the idea. The industrialization that comes with it causes more harm than good, some say.
But the discovery of natural resources like this mean big money for farmers, who can't turn it down when they struggle every year with debt and the cost of keeping up their property. It could end up hurting them in the long run, however, since once word spread about the contamination issue, many are loathe to buy products from a farm that allows fracking.
But those in the fracking business insist it is misunderstood and is completely safe when done correctly.
“A lot of these chemicals are chemicals people come into contact with in their everyday lives,” said Simon Lomax, research director at Energy In Depth. “The point is they are to be used as directed.”