A Better yOU: What the frack

Katie Rose

We’ve all heard how hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, is not so good for our environment and health. Fracking is a process that pumps water, sand and chemicals deep into the earth at high pressures causing shale rocks to break and natural gas to be released. So what is the big deal? Why is this harmful to our environment and us?

This process uses about 4,000 gallons of chemicals per fracturing, which includes carcinogens and toxins such as mercury, lead, hydrochloric acid, uranium, methanol, formaldehyde and radium. Fracking also uses millions of gallons of water for each fracturing job.  After all these chemicals and water are injected into the ground, only about 30-50 percent of these nonbiodegradable materials are recovered. The recovered waste fluid is then left in an open pit releasing VOCs and contaminating the air. 

So, the big deal behind fracking is that it wastes tons of water and pollutes our air and water. Okay, yeah, this is really bad, right? But, we still need natural gas…

It seems that people are starting to realize the dangers of fracking and new technologies are being developed to change these hazardous methods. On example of this is GasFrac, which uses a gel made from propane and other benign chemicals. On top of that, GasFrac avoids using water completely. 

Sounds better already, doesn’t it? There are also more approaches being developed that include using recycling water or brine, eliminating diesel fumes, treating the wastewater and containing methane gas leaks.

There is hope! Some states and cities have even banned fracking. However, there are still some that are behind on that bandwagon. Rochester Hills, Oakland University’s neighboring city, continues to be fought by the protest group, Don’t Drill the Hills. DDH has filed a lawsuit against the city for violating the City’s Charter and Michigan Home Rule City Act. 

According to DDH, the city planned to have oil and gas exploration in a city-owned cemetery and in Bloomer Park. They claim the law has been violated because Rochester Hills voters did not authorize this. The court date has been set for March 8, 2016 at 10 a.m. at the WMU Cooley Law School, 2630 Featherstone Rd, Auburn Hills, MI. 

It has also been rumored that plans were being made to have oil and gas exploration on Oakland University’s campus. To stay informed about this issue in Rochester Hills, you can visit dontdrillthehills.org.

Resources: keeptapwatersafe.org, National Geographic, EARTHWORKS, Dangers of Fracking, dontdrillthehills.org.

Upcoming environmental, health, and wellness events:

  • Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection General Meeting, March 3, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m., Lake Superior A Room in the Oakland Center
  • Student Congress Mind Matters, March 7, 1 pm – 4 p.m., Gold Rooms in the Oakland Center
  • S.O.P.E Eco Conference, March 9, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., Gold Rooms in the Oakland Center
  • Student Congress Talkin’ Trash 2, March 29, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Meet in Fireside Lounge