In recent history natural gas has been explored as an alternate option to the large amounts of oil used by the United States. There have been claims that there is enough natural gas within the United States to finally give our country energy independence. Obviously anyone who hears the word independence starts paying more attention. Questions start arising, such as: what if we no longer need to rely on oil? How will this affect me? And what benefits can come from this?
However, one question that sometimes gets glossed over is that of: What is the cost of this new resource? In accounting there is a well known statement that says, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” With that idea in mind, I began searching for the costs of this new resource. That cost is hydraulic fracking and what it is doing to the environment, but more importantly to our food source.
There are a large amount of chemicals that are involved in the fracking process. These chemicals are used deep in the ground in order to reach and extract the natural gas. The issue arising is that these chemicals are contaminating the surrounding water, land and air. This is becoming an especially large issue in the Marcellus Shale region, which contains a large reservoir of natural gas, but is also an agriculturally rich area. More and more reports of health issues regarding livestock are arising due to the contamination. This is an extremely worrisome issue that these chemicals which are helping to try and secure the United States as an energy independent nation are also causing health issues in our food supply.
What is the scariest part about this entire ordeal is that there is nowhere near enough information about the effects and what this may result in. Energy companies have been able to find loopholes in regards to government regulation as well as their adequate disclosures. Without this pertinent information how can we know the extent of this problem as well as the effects it may be having upon us. When I sit down to eat a meal, I would like to be assured that there has been no chemical contamination within the water or land that the food was grown or raised on. This is a very worrisome thought to have.
This leads me to believe that there should at least be more government regulation and disclosures about the process, the chemicals used, as well as the extent to which chemicals have contaminated the surrounding land. I understand the nation’s want and need for energy independence, but I also believe that the primary concern should be the overall health of the nation. There is no such thing as a free lunch; so I believe it is time we know how much it costs.