21 states in the US, including Ohio, allow and practice hydraulic fracking, a method of extracting oil and natural gas by “injecting fluid into subterranean rock formations at high pressure.” Fracking has become an increasingly common method of oil/natural gas production, and now makes up 67 percent of natural gas production and 51 percent of crude oil production in the US. The states are given primary authority over fracking regulations, though every state in which fracking takes place must abide by federal legislation including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. These, among other regulations, are put in place with the objective to protect the environment from the many negative effects of fracking. Despite these federal standards which must be met, fracking still has extremely harsh effects on surrounding wildlife and fisheries. A study conducted at Duke University in 2015 found that fracking operations produced 210 billion gallons of wastewater from 2005 to 2014. This wastewater, which has been mixed with sand/sediment particles, and multiple chemicals, before being injected underground to produce oil, is stored in large, underground disposal wells after the fracking process is complete. This method of storage presents many issues to the environment. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, approximately 20-40 percent of stored wastewater is released back into the environment during drilling and production. This wastewater that is accidentally released ends up contaminating waterways, killing fish, contributing to excess algae growth, and even killing the wildlife that relies on these waterways for their fresh drinking water. Cattle and other farm animals are impacted just by the contamination of the groundwater where they graze, and many instances of mass death of cattle have been recorded These are few among many issues that fracking presents to wildlife, including air pollution, and habitat loss, a result of earthquakes caused by the underground wastewater wells. It is clear that fracking is extremely harmful to the environment and that the current regulations put on the processes are not enough the protect the wildlife and fisheries that are put in harm’s way. It is important that stricter laws are put in place in order to improve fracking practices or, in certain areas, disband them all together.
This map identifies the 21 state that have fracking sites in the US.
This map shows the thousands of fracking sites that exist in the state of Ohio alone.
- Ballotpedia, “Fracking in Ohio,” April 3, 2018, https://www.livescience.com/27692-deforestation.html
- Inside Climate News, “Map: The Fracking Boom, State by State,” January 20, 2015, https://insideclimatenews.org/news/20150120/map-fracking-boom-state-state
- National Parks Conservation association, “Fracking and National Park Wildlife,” May 28, 2013, https://www.npca.org/articles/227-fracking-and-national-park-wildlife