Most environmentalists are probably familiar with the oil and gas extraction process known as hydraulic induced fracturing, or fracking, which uses highly pressurized water to remove oil and gas deposits from rocks deep beneath the earth's surface. The procedure involves creating fractures in the rocks, which releases the natural gas and crude oil trapped inside.
Proponents of fracking say the process unlocks the enormous energy-producing potential of U.S. oil and gas wells that had previously been inaccessible. On the other hand, critics have raised serious concerns about the effect fracking will have on water supplies, the environment and public health.
The New York Times reported recently that a new study published by Ceres, a nonprofit advocacy organization that encourages businesses and investors to focus on creating a sustainable global economy, says that fracking could present significant problems for water supplies in western states such as Texas and Colorado, where the process has been widely adopted.
Although the total amount of water used for fracking is relatively small, the study says the problem needs to be looked at geographically. Monika Freyman, the study's author, said in an interview with the source that, "you have to look at a county-by-county scale to capture the intense and short-term impact on water supplies." Freyman said that the process typically requires one million to five million gallons of water over a short period of time.
Water used for fracking can be recycled, but the process is expensive as the used water contains lots of chemicals, sand and even radioactive material that needs to be removed before it can either be reused for fracking or added back into the water supply.
Check back with LifeisGreen.com as we continue to report on the fracking controversy and bring you the latest news on oil, gas and renewable energy production.