Environmental Science


We currently use fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, to meet most of our energy demands. However, as discussed previously in the course, there are negative environmental impacts to burning fossil fuels. One alternative is using more natural gas for our energy needs. Just like other energy sources, natural gas needs to be mined or extracted to make it available for use in a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Although there are benefits of fracking, major environmental concerns should be considered.

  • Water Issues: Contamination of Groundwater. There is considerable concern that fracking can lead to contamination of groundwater as a result of spills, faulty well construction, or other means, including disposal into underground injection wells.
  • Air Quality Issues. Fracking activities can lead to emissions into the air of methane, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants, and greenhouse gases.
  • Water Issues: Stress on Existing Water Supply. The strain that heavy-volume surface and groundwater withdrawals of freshwater used in the fracking process may be placing on water resources is one of the top concerns related to the process.
  • Water Issues: Management of Wastewater. The wastewater associated with shale gas extraction can contain high levels of total dissolved solids, fracturing fluid additives, metals, and naturally occurring radioactive materials.
  • Disclosure of Fracking Chemicals. Five states—Colorado, Montana, Louisiana, Texas, and North Dakota—require operators to post data regarding the chemicals used in fracking with an online database, the FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry. This could lead to federal intervention.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (2012). EPA’s Study of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources. Retrieved from http://www2.epa.gov/hfstudy

Review this website on Hydraulic Fracturing: http://fracfocus.org/hydraulic-fracturing-process

For this week’s individual work, write a 1-2 page paper (counting body text only, not title or reference pages) in double spaced, one-inch margins on all sides.  Respond to the following:

  1. What is natural gas and how does it differ from other fossil fuel?
  2. What is the purpose of hydraulic fracturing or fracking?
  3. List at least three pros of fracking.
  4. List at least three cons of fracking.
  5. Considering the pros and cons of fracking, do you think that fracking should be legal in your state? Explain why.
  6. What are sinkholes and how do they occur?
  7. What do you think happens to the water supply in an area where fracking occurs?
  8. Hydraulic fracturing is believed to be the cause of earthquakes in different areas of the United States. Do you agree with this statement after reviewing the information presented? You should use the Internet as well in helping form your opinion. Please use reference(s) to support your argument.
  9. On the website above, find where the nearest well is to your home and give the pertinent details of the well. You can find this information by going to “Find a Well” on the homepage of the website. If there isn’t a well in your county, find one in your state.


Please make sure all of your assignments:

  • Are written in paragraph form.
  • Are double-spaced.
  • Use 12 point, Times New Roman font.
  • Include title & reference pages.
  • Include at least one full page of text to the body of your essay.
  • Include one-inch margins on all sides.
  • Include a reference list at the end of your essay.  That includes all websites, journals, articles, etc., you used.

Please make sure you have not copied and pasted any information directly from any source; that is considered plagiarism.  There is no need to copy, or quote, anyone for this assignment. It is to be a written summary reflecting your own thoughts of your reading and research on this topic.  However, you should include in your reference list the source of your reading and research.

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