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OWOE - Oil And Gas - If fracking is so good for the US economy, why are so many opposed to the practice?
If fracking is so good for the US economy, why are so many opposed to the practice?
Topic updated: 2015-09-01

United States oil and gas production has increased over 50% in recent years as the practice of fracking has expanded. This has allowed a dramatic reduction in oil imports, kept gas prices for electricity production low, allowed for the retirement of older, more polluting coal-fired power plants, and aided economic development around the country. However, environmentalists and a number of scientists are concerned over the impact on ground water and air quality. There are also very ideological members of the environmental organizations who see cheap natural gas as a roadblock toward a renewable energy future, and are opposed, in principle, to anything that involves fossil fuel exploitation.

In December 2014 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's administration announced that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks. The question of fracking has been one of the most divisive public policy debates in New York in years, and the decision appeared to be driven more by the concern over potential health risks and less by actual scientific data backing up such concerns. While the decision was immediately hailed by environmental and liberal groups, residents of the poorer rural communities in upstate New York, which sit above the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, viewed the decision with dismay. One organization called the Upstate New York Towns Association vowed to look into secession from the state.

For similar reasons, but with a vastly different outcome, the citizens of Denton, Tx, which sits on top of the prolific Barnett Shale formation, voted in November 2014 to ban fracking within city limits. This prompted a series of lawsuits and a flurry of activity in the Texas legislature. In May 2015 Texas governor Greg Abbott signed legislation that prohibits cities across Texas from banning hydraulic fracturing.

Regardless of the political and emotional aspects of the issue, the fact remains that fracking, just like all oil and gas production, has the potential to harm people and the environment. Prominent individuals in the industry and across the US have stepped up and challenged the industry on whether it is sufficiently addressing the risks. They are calling for much greater emphasis on quality control from the oil companies, monitoring of emissions, and government oversight to minimize and manage these risks.

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