Framing the Debate
Should the United States place a ban on fracking?
Fracking has been a controversial issue these past years due to its rapid expansion across many states in the United States. Those that are in favor of a ban consist of environmentalists, while those that oppose a ban represent or work for oil and gas companies. Politicians are also involved with fracking as some have supported its expansion while others have advocated against it. Most of the republican party is in favor fracking while democrats are split on its stance. According to a poll taken by Gallup last year, 66 percent of republicans are in favor of fracking while 20 percent are against it. The democrat party shows that 54 percent oppose fracking and 26 percent supports it.
Those who oppose a ban a fracking claim that fracking is necessary for the economy as it provides many jobs to engineers, geologist, and construction workers. According to Christopher Harper from The Washington Times, In Pennsylvania workers receive an average pay of $62,000 a year, and that the fracking boom has created more than 70,000 jobs. Opponents of a a ban also claim that fracking lowers expenses on gas prices. According to Jude Clemente, the cost of natural gas is two to five times lower than it is in other OECD countries, and has “allowed American families to save thousands on energy costs”. Fracking also allows the United States to becoming energy independent as opposed to relying on foreign oil. According to Harper, United States dependence on foreign oil is supposed to decline from 37 percent to 25 percent by this year.
Those who are in favor for a ban on fracking believe that its economic benefits are not worth its long term effects on the environment since fracking is currently poorly regulated. Fracking uses a significant amount of water for each drilling process which accumulates significantly over the course of each year. According to a study by The Environment of America (EOA), fracking wells in Pennsylvania used 30 billion gallons of water between the years 2005–2012. There are also several chemicals used in the process of fracking some which are known to be harmful to human health to those living near fracking wells. However, most chemicals used in fracking are unknown since oil an gas companies are not required to report what is being used. However, recently the Environmental Protection Agency EPA recently conducted a study which found that there are about 700 different chemicals used in the process with a median of 14 chemicals per fracking job.
The debate behind fracking is an important issue today and the running candidates for president each have their stance on it. Democratic Nominee Bernie Sanders opposes fracking, and earlier this week has proposed a national ban on fracking in which he stated “In my view, if we are serious about safe and clean drinking water, if we are serious about clean air,” he said. “If we are serious about combating climate change, we need to put an end to fracking not only in New York and Vermont, but all over this country”. Although Hillary Clinton has played a major role in the fracking boom these past years, she is now advocating for heavy fracking regulation. During the democratic debate in Flint Michigan when asked about her stance on fracking Clinton stated “You know, I don’t support it when any locality or any state is against it, number one. I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it — number three — unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using. So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.”
Republican nominee Ted Cruz however, completely supports fracking and has outlined a bill to lower regulations on oil and gas companies. Cruz has stated that fracking has been a “providential blessing” for the nation and economic growth and that “We are seeing extraordinary developments in energy that are opening resources that five or 10 years ago would have been unimaginable”. John Kasich, Republican Nominee of Ohio is in favor of fracking as well, and has played a role in all the fracking wells drilled in Ohio after signing a freeze on renewable energy. When asked about his opinion on plummeting oil prices during the republican debate Kasich stated, “It’s so important for us to be energy independent, and we’re getting there because of fracking” and will be a “key to economic growth”. Depending on who is elected president this year fracking will either continue with less regulations or will be heavily regulated or possibly banned.