What are the positive benefits of fracking?  What is the harm or potential for harm?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The issue of fracking is a very contentious one.  It largely involves a conflict between guaranteed economic benefits (and some environmental benefits, depending on how you think about it) one the one hand and possible environmental and health damages on the other. 

The main benefit of fracking is very clear.  It could make a lot of money for the companies that do it, for the people who work at it, for the landowners on whose land the fracking occurs, and others.  This is a very important consideration in today’s economy.  Relatedly, fracking would help to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, thus keeping more of our money in the country.  Thus, the economic benefits of fracking are clear.

The other benefit of fracking is environmental.  It would help to reduce the use of things like coal and oil which are relatively worse in terms of greenhouse emissions than natural gas is.  Of course, opponents would say that it would be better for us to go away from fossil fuels altogether.  Therefore, we might argue that fracking is environmentally beneficial, but this is a contested claim.

The major potential harm from fracking is to health and the environment.  Fracking uses a great deal of water that has chemicals in it.  Opponents fear that that water will end up in the ground water and will have negative effects on the health of people who come in contact with that water.  They also argue that fracking perpetuates our dependence on fossil fuels and will fail to put off global warming.  Finally, there are those who believe that fracking can lead to earthquakes.  All of these are potential health and environmental harms that are associated with fracking.