Presented by Jared Atkinson, Natasha Goss, and Jordan Wilkerson

The advent of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, has led to the development of previously inaccessible resources, significantly increasing world gas and oil reserves. Despite the positive impact on energy reserves, questions about the long-term environmental effects of these extraction methods are unanswered. The technical details involved in fracking and the associated environmental issues will be discussed in this lecture. Fracking has been linked to very small earthquakes, called microseisms. However, larger, more damaging tremors are most often linked to the injection of wastewater from fracking, not to the fracturing process itself. The use of natural gas– extracted using fracking techniques – as an energy source instead of coal results in a reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. However, there is evidence that natural gas extraction results in the emission of methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. The examination of the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing presents a host of fascinating issues as complex as they are controversial.


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