Legal Issues in Hydraulic Fracturing
Energy is major driving factor in all daily activities, from home use to industries. There are various sources of energy, the major one being natural gas and petroleum. Throughout the years, methods of harvesting these forms of energy have been met by many challenges. However, with the advancing steps made in technology as a field, new ways of harvesting the petroleum and gas energy have been designed and modified over time. It is in this line that the hydraulic fracturing method of getting access to these fuels was developed.
Hydraulic fracturing is the process of introduction of fractures in a rock layer by use of a pressurized fluid. Naturally, hydraulic fractures usually form and occur as veins or dikes. Artificial hydraulic fracturing is also known as hydro fracturing or fracing. It is used to retrieve petroleum, natural gas and other substances from their underground reservoir wells. It is a very efficient method, and it greatly maximizes the extraction of the fuels hence it is very important to the economy of a nation. Vents are dug, and pipes are put in through them or geologically formed vents, and water and chemical additives are pumped into the underground under very high pressure to break the petroleum and gas wells for the fuels to be extracted. The pressure of the fluid pumped into the wells causes the oil to rise near the surface for extraction.
However, this very effective method of extraction of the fuels has met many critics. The method has very severe impacts on the environment. Some of the effects include contamination of the ground water. The other risk is contamination of the air reducing its quality and the mishandling of the waste from this process. The chemicals used in the fracturing process mix with the underground water, which when consumed by living organisms causes illnesses, for example, chronic illness like cancer that may result in deaths. Pollution of air is eminent, and the results are ill health and deaths. The companies that carry out the fracing process are also not trustworthy in taking caution to protect the environment. Mishandling of the waste from this process is rampant causing pollution of the environment.
It is for these reasons that the government and other non-governmental organizations have strongly come out to voice out for the protection of the environment. The government has taken a keen interest in this issue that involves one of the industries that contribute immensely to the economy and the markets of the world. The government has taken precautionary measures to control and counter the environmental impacts. The measures involve drafting, debating and constituting laws that govern the process of oil and petroleum mining and transportation.
Such measures include the proposed federal FRAC Act. H.R. 1084; S.587. This regulation seeks to address the issue of water pollution in the underground. The Michigan DEQ permitting instructions (2011) outlines the guidelines to permitting of the use of the hydraulic fracturing method. Another regulation is Wyoming Oil and GS Regulation, Chapter 3 section 45(September 2010). There are also local laws involved in this regulation process. These laws hold for the drillers, and they have introduced protective drilling formulae for use as cracking fluid. The laws overriding the chemical disclosure also are different from one state to another.
The hydraulic fracturing method is effective for extraction of oil, petroleum and gas. The process directly influences the economy of the nation as well as the environment. It is my opinion that the government and local authorities clearly understand that, and they have taken effective measures to control the process. The laws are effective and will reduce the impacts of the process to the environment.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2012). Natural Gas Extraction
Hydraulic Fracturing. Retrieved on 8th January 2013 from http://www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracture/
Boman, K. (2013). .Alaska Proposes Changes to Hydraulic Fracturing Rules. Retrieved on 8th
Jan 2013, from http://www.rigzone.com/news/oil_gas/a/123178/Alaska_Proposes_Changes_to_Hydrauli
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