What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Fracking?

advantages-disadvantages-fracking Credit: doranjclark/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has helped dramatically boost the United States' natural gas and oil production, reducing dependence on foreign energy sources and promising energy independence by 2030, says Aljazeera. However, fracking consumes large quantities of water and can release volatile organic compounds into the environment, argues Nature World News.

As of 2015, natural gas reserves in the United States have grown 30 percent in the last five years with the use of hydraulic fracturing. Increased availability and use of natural gas in lieu of oil or coal translate into reduced harmful emissions in the atmosphere, and natural gas is a viable "bridge fuel" on the way to even cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. Total oil production in North Dakota has tripled since 2005, and other domestic energy sources have experienced similar increases, according to EnergyFromShale.org. Net foreign oil imports to the United States have dropped 44 percent since 2009, reports Aljazeera. Becoming a net energy exporting nation enhances American economic influence around the globe.

Fracking requires the injection of water and chemicals deep into the ground, raising fears that groundwater could become contaminated. In September 2014, CBS DFW news reported that five separate university studies indicated that approximately 1 percent of wells drilled resulted in some groundwater contamination. Nature World News cited other studies in June 2014, indicating that 10 to 40 percent of fracking flowback fluids returns to the surface during well development, allowing heavy metals and other pollutants to seep into soil and groundwater.