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Teddy Edwards

Writing and Rhetoric


Why the United States should Frack

In 2005 a new technology was created that provided the U.S. the ability to tap into an
incredible amount of energy. Hydraulic fracturing, a process of horizontally drilling into shale
formations, then pumping high pressure water and chemicals into the rocks to break them up
releasing trapped natural gas, has opened up previously unreachable natural gas reserves.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, has vastly increased the U.S. self sustainability,
however it has also gained a terrible reputation for being extremely degrading to the
environment, specifically the water purity in towns surrounding wells. As fracking became more
prevalent, pictures of water the color of chocolate milk and videos of water from sinks being set
on fire began to emerge. These videos cumulated in the film Gas land, a documentary about
people who have allowed companies to drill on their land and the affects that they have had to
deal with. Since Gas Land, fracking has become the subject of huge public debate and been
featured in many news articles in almost every major media outlet. In many of these reports,
fracking is portrayed as a terrible and extremely harmful way of obtaining natural gas. Although
the media often portrays fracking as incredible destructive and a dangerous form of drilling,
fracking is an incredible boon to the U.S. and new reports suggest that fracking might not be as
harmful as previously thought, therefore the U.S. must not abandon fracking as a means to obtain

To begin with, ever since fracking started it has been painted in an incredible negative
light by media outlets. Videos of water from underground wells being set on fire have gone viral
on the internet, with some having over one million views on YouTube. In every instance, the
contaminated water is blamed on fracking despite scientific evidence that states otherwise.
These videos are highlighted in the documentary Gas Land, of which, even the trailer projects
fracking as a evil activity. The trailer features dramatic scenes and quotes that are meant to
attract viewers and do not provide an unbiased account. Lines such as "The neurological affects
are very insidious." followed by a cut to a women talking about how everyone was sick gives
audiences an automatic connection between fracking and nerve damage without any scientific
connection. (Cmgopmgr 1:25-30) By connecting such a terrible disease to fracking, Gas Land
begins to hook viewers and influence them by scare tactics just through the commercial. In
addition, the supporters of fracking that are shown in the trailer are pictured as idiots or secret
corporate workers. When showing a fracking supporter in congress, Gas Land quotes him as
saying "If you weren't able to do this hydraulic fracturing, how much more would we be
dependent of foreign oil and terrorism" (Cmgopmgr 1:35-45). While this statement is uneducated
and offensive, by choosing it as the only quote from a pro fracking advocate, the Gas Land trailer
makes all fracking supporters look insensitive and uneducated. This theme is continued when,
showing the interview of a fracking executive, the trailer shows him storming out of the room
after being asked difficult questions. (Cmgopmgr 1:55-2:00) By showing this, Gas Land aims at
making fracking look like a secret, big corporate enterprise that exploits small town Americans.
In addition, news outlets have attacked fracking as a danger to society. In an article over fracking
and natural gas pipes by NBC, the author began with inflammatory clause "A construction boom
of pipelines carrying explosive oil and natural gas from fracking fields to market -- pipes that

are bigger and more dangerous than their predecessors" (Seville). Within the first lines, the
author sets up a negative idea of fracking by choosing to use the words explosive oil and natural
gas. In another article on NBC about fracking, the author chooses to start with a leading
question, "Fracking for oil and natural gas - or having enough water to drink" clearly intended to
taint fracking for readers from the beginning of the article. He goes on to mention that
researchers disagree on the science behind the dilemma of water or fracking, however the
placement of this statement was crucial, as it came after the initial question (Koba, Mark). In
addition, there are entire websites, such as dedicated to the sole purpose
of persuading the public to be against fracking through choice facts, stats, and design effects. The
creators of the website use different texts and colors in order to highlight certain words and facts.
For example, when talking about the results of fracking, the designers bold the words "numerous
environmental, safety and health hazards" putting stress on the negative effects fracking and not
even mention the benefits. (Dangers of Fracking) Through documentaries such as Gas Land,
which uses scare tactics and cutting scenes to persuade audiences, news sites such as NBC,
which uses words to portray fracking as a dangerous activity, and internet sites such as Dangers
of Fracking, media has tainted the image of fracking and damaged its reputation.
However, In actuality fracking is a great boon to the U.S. and recent scientific studies
have shown that some of the environmental affects attributed to fracking may be from different
sources. Fracking offers the U.S. an incredible source of natural gas and domestic energy. Since
the introduction of fracking in 2005, U.S. natural gas production has increased by 6,763,783
million cubic feet (U.S. Energy Administration). Through this increase of natural gas, the U.S.
has been able to gain greater energy independence and has also supported the U.S. economy with
growing natural gas firms and Fracking drilling companies. According to reports from third

party company McKinsey Global Institute, by 2020 natural gas production could increase GDP
by 110 billion dollars and reduce net energy imports to almost zero (NGP Natural Resources XI,
L.P. Relevant Reading). Fracking has the potential to turn the U.S. back into an energy exporter
which would help to fuel incredible U.S. economic growth over the long run. In addition, the
natural gas and oil industry supports millions of American jobs ,
PwC estimates that at the national level, each direct job in the oil and natural gas industry
supported nearly three jobs elsewhere in the US economy in 2011. That is, in addition to
the 2.6 million direct jobs in the oil and natural gas industry, 7.2 million additional jobs
were supported in the US economy through the indirect and induced impacts of the
industry (NGP Natural Resources XI, L.P. Relevant Reading).
With such a major part of the American work force being supported by natural gas, limiting
fracking would be an economic error. Although some argue that fracking's environmental is too
great for any economic benefits that come with it, recent studies have shown that many of the
environmental affects usually attributed to fracking may come from other sources. One of the
biggest environmental worries with fracking is ground water poisoning through leaks in fracking
pipes. As mention earlier, there have been many news reports, YouTube videos, and
documentaries that show water being lit on fire and fracking being blamed. However, recent
studies have discovered that faulty wells are more likely the reason behind the videos of water
catching on fire. A study by Thomas Darrah of the University of Ohio stated well construction
was likely to blame for gas leaks, "Where contamination occurs, it related strictly to well
integrity. The answer is not to stop drilling. The fix is better executions on the construction of the
well and improving well integrity. He said evidence of contamination didn't correlate to
wholesale leaks caused by fracking" (Gold, Russell). More and more studies are coming out

defending fracking and showing faults in the well construction. With this new data there is no
reason to restrict U.S. fracking. Increase in natural gas production has also lead to extended use
of natural gas and reduced oil, which is more harmful to the environment. Companies like CNG,
a natural gas gas station company are growing and the use of natural gas in cars could lead to
cleaner future. Despite the negative reputation of fracking, its economic benefits and recent
scientific discoveries have shown that it is in fact a great boon to the U.S.
Because of fracking's great economic and political benefits and the recent questions about
its environmental impact, the U.S. must not abandon fracking as a source of domestic energy.
The United States is completely reliant on energy. From electricity to gasoline, the U.S. needs
energy to power her households as well as her industry. Even in 2010, natural gas was the source
of 29 percent of the energy used in manufacturing (Use of Energy). With this much of U.S.
manufacturing dependent on energy from natural gas, restricting fracking and natural gas
production would put a squeeze on American production and either push the price of natural gas
to new highs or keep the U.S. under the thumb of foreign countries. Fracking has already
minimized foreign countries power over both the U.S. and her allies:
American shale gas is playing a key role in weakening Russias ability to use energy as a
weapon against its European customers. It has also eliminated the need for natural-gas
exports from Iran, removing Irans ability to use energy diplomacy as a means to
strengthen its regional power or to buttress its nuclear aspirations. (The Economist)
With so much political power tied to resources and especially energy resources the United States
cannot afford to abandon such an incredible source natural gas. Additionally, with the millions of
American jobs supported directly or indirectly by fracking, an attempt to shut down or even

restrict fracking would be detrimental to the nations employment. Looking on even a larger
scale, fracking serves to answer many of the worlds energy problems:
Before the emergence of shale gas as a major new source of energy supply in the mid to
late 2000s, energy prices were rising sharply worldwide and analysts were anticipating
such severe shortages that energy scarcity was frequently cited as a future driver of global
conflict... Virtually overnight, the shale gas revolution has reversed these global energy
scarcity woes. (The Economist)
Fracking's ability to provide the world with enough energy to meet demand and stave off energy
shortages is more than enough reason to keep fracking as a source of natural gas. Also, with the
recent conflicting scientific findings on fracking's effect on the environment, calling for a end to
fracking would be premature and could be completely unnecessary. This is not to say that
fracking has no environmental effect or that there is absolutely no connection between accounts
of groundwater poising and fracking, but with the recent discovery about poorly constructed
wells it would be an overreaction to completely stop fracking at the current time. For those who
argue that fracking's energy output can be matched if more resources were to put into clean
energy, this idea is flawed. In order to match the amount of energy natural gas and fossil fuels
give us, we would need to construct fourteen times the amount of nuclear power plants that are in
the world today. Having complete clean energy in the next decade is an impossible ideal; " Not
only is it virtually impossible to convert to renewable energy today (and probably even in the
next decade or two), but also to do so will still have substantial impacts on land use, mining
pollution, waste streams and ecosystems" (The Economist). Because it is impossible to provide
enough energy to support the world through clean means, natural gas from fracking is a logical
substitute because of natural gas's lesser environmental affect compared to other fossil fuels and

its abundance. Fracking has been scrutinized and criticized from almost every media outlet,
however it offers incredible economic and political benefits and many of the original
environmental issues have been proven to not necessarily be related to fracking. Because of these
incredible pros that fracking offers and the recent questions over fracking's impact, the United
States cannot and should not abandon fracking as a means of harvesting natural gas and energy.
Fracking is an extremely tough issue. On one hand it provides the United States with an
incredible amount of natural gas, on the other it has been attributed to terrible environmental
consequences such as water that can be set on fire and severe health problems including
neurological issues. Fracking has caused a great public debate with many people on each side of
the argument. In a recent online forum held by the Economist, 51 percent of people voted against
fracking while 49 said they agreed with it (The Economist) With such a divide in opinion, the
issue of fracking will have to come to a head. Many media sites have already taken up the issue
of fracking and, more often than not, painted a very negative image of it. Through documentaries
like Gas Land, news web sites such as NBC, and websites such as, media
has made fracking look like an extremely dangerous and secret operation. However, recent
scientific discoveries have undercut the ideas that fracking is contaminating ground water
showing that the U.S. should not overreact and put harsh controls on fracking. In addition,
fracking supports millions of jobs directly or indirectly and provides the United States with an
vast source of domestic energy. These huge economic and political benefits are too great for the
United States to throw away by banning or limiting fracking. Thus, despite the negative image
fracking has received from media, it is too vital of a technology for the United States to abandon.