2014 brought some of the highest levels of oil production in the United States that the country has ever seen. And hydraulic fracturing, known colloquially as fracking, is the technology that’s mostly responsible. However, the more prevalent it becomes the more it’s criticized by activists and environmental advocates.
Politics aside, here are five of the most incredible facts about fracking in the U.S.
You Can See Fracking From Space
The Bakken Formation, which is located primarily in North Dakota, is one of the richest sources of shale oil in the entire country. That means that it’s also an area in which fracking is more concentrated than almost anywhere else in the nation.
So what’s the big deal about that? As it turns out, the shale wells made possible by fracking are so prevalent in the Bakken that you can actually see their gas discharge flares from space. That’s right. In satellite photos of the midwest you can see a distinct patch of glowing light in the midst of an otherwise pitch black portion of the landscape.
Studies Have Proven Fracking Can Cause Earthquakes
Photo via Nicholas Tonelli
For months there was dispute over whether fracking and increased seismic activity are connected. But a study from the Seismological Society of America released in early 2015 has confirmed a connection between fracking and small earthquakes near drilling operations in Ohio. The effects of these results on the industry remain to be seen, but this new information doesn’t bode well for domestic oil producers.
Fracking Could Taint Your Favorite Brew
Although there are some serious environmental concerns surrounding fracking, there is a lesser known, yet still serious, threat that the practice poses. Get this: beer manufacturers in Germany, Pennsylvania, and other parts of the world, are warning beer lovers everywhere of the potential for fracking-polluted to put a nasty spin on your favorite suds. The problem is this: fracking can contaminate groundwater, plain and simple. If contaminated groundwater surrounding breweries has to be treated, it could cause serious problems for beer flavor and quality.
Air Might Actually be Cleaner Because of Fracking
Photo via Daniel Foster
Ok, this one might be hard to believe, but the evidence is stronger than you think. Here’s the rationale:
Since fracking has caused such a huge surge in the available supply of natural gas, many electrical plants have reduced or eliminated their use of coal. After all, since natural gas has become so cheap and plentiful it makes perfect sense to use it over coal.
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