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What benefits come from fracking?

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Quick Answer

Fracking provides a way to reach and utilize previously inaccessible natural gas and oil. The use of natural gas to generate electricity requires less water than the use of coal.

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Full Answer

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves using high pressure water, chemicals and sediment to access natural gas and oil deep within rock formations. It permits access to more fuel reserves than conventional drilling, and this fuel provides an alternative to coal and nuclear power. One major concern about fracking is the amount of water it requires. Fracking uses more water than traditional drilling, but replacing coal with natural gas saves water. Mining and refining of coal requires twice as much water as fracking. The natural gas that fracking provides also causes significantly less air pollution than coal.

Water pollution is another major concern with fracking. This is especially important when fracking occurs near residential wells or in states that allow the use of fracking wastewater for watering livestock. Studies indicate that fracking wastewater can, in rare cases, contaminate groundwater, and agricultural use of fracking sometimes kills nearby trees and plant life. In order to balance the benefits and negative impacts of fracking, wastewater should either be recycled for further fracking or sent to specialized treatment plants that have the ability to deal with the chemical load of fracking wastewater, according to Stanford University.

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