What the Frack?

By Michelle Caldera

Hydraulic fracking has long been used to balance the demand for natural gas. The process involves pumping natural gas from the depths of the sea and urban areas by using a combination of sand, water and chemicals through horizontal drilling. There are different forms of fracking that occur along the coast of California, and it has recently begun to expand outward into urban areas, near cities and homes.

The BP oil spill along the Gulf of Mexico is one of the most notable fracking incidences as the wells that drilled at the bottom of the ocean gave way, creating a massive pollution site that took years to clear. To many researchers, the threat of air and water pollution is much greater than what most people anticipate.

The Sierra Club, an environmental organization that establishes support from regional activists, has rallied a few protests to ban fracking. They claim it can cause harmful effects such as increased uncertainty in seismic activity, as well as increased water and air pollution. Drilling companies such as Freeport-McMoRan, located in the Inglewood Oil Field, adjacent from the Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area, use pressurized clean, spring water to send down the oil wells to resurface natural gas.

Kathryn Phillips, director of the Sierra Club in California, says, “We are exposing our water resources by injecting underground, near clean aquifers.”

Phillips believes that clean water continues to be wasted by these big oil-drilling companies, even though we have been experiencing a five-year drought.

“Temperature differences and new ailments will begin to happen,” said Phillips. “We are in a world of hurt regarding climate change.”

Government regulations have been lenient on fracking, as many oil companies have recently extended drilling throughout urban areas. Beverly Hills High School had been an oil-drilling site for a few decades but has recently been banned because of the effects of air pollution that could cause potential cancers in the future.

Communities near fracking sites are believed to gain financial benefits for oil companies drilling in or near their vicinity. Wealth stimulation becomes a byproduct for low-income communities, allowing them to become easy targets for fracking.

According to Phillips, we must “transition the transportation sector to electric vehicles”. By pushing the automotive industries into creating more electric vehicles that may become more available to the public, we can then begin to reduce our dependency on carbon fuel.

“We must increase renewable energy and dramatically cut carbon emissions,” said Phillips.

Future effects of fracking in urban areas have considerable consequences. By using preventative measures to reduce the amount of carbon emissions used, and efforts to improve regulations to ban major oil drillers from oil extraction, we may then be able to prevent toxic exposure for short and long-term effects.