As the early morning sub rises, you look out your window at the wildlife preserve and see the color of the leaves changing. You’ve lived in this town all of your life and have grown to love the place. Your neighbors are pleasant and you had a great childhood. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of job opportunities here. About 13% of the community lives in poverty. Even those who have jobs can’t afford to leave even if they wanted to.
As you sit, thinking about your town and watching the ducks on the pond, you hear the woman on the news talking about “fracking.” She explains that “fracking” is short for “hydraulic fracturing.” That is when energy companies drill down into the ground and force water and other chemicals into the shale rock below to release natural gas. These companies can then sell this gas to customers for energy.
Energy companies say that this type of energy extraction will help the country to reduce its dependence on foreign oil because we can get it right from our own ground. They also say that it will help local economies because they will pay landowners for the rights to drill on their land. If they find that they can get gas out of the ground on a particular piece of land, the companies will pay the landowners even more money.
Some people say that this is a dangerous way to get energy, though. Some have reported that the chemicals used during fracking have contaminated the water, making it dangerous to drink. There are even videos of people being able to light their drinking water on fire because of the gas that has leaked into it when the fracking occurred. In addition, some worry about the by-products of fracking; something has to be done with all of the chemical water used during the process.
As the news report finishes, the woman on the television says that a major energy company would like to begin fracking in your community.