The Wall Street Journal has ran 2 important articles on fracking over the last few days in its print edition.
Oil's Growing Thirst for Water by R. Gold and A. Campoy on Dec 6 2011, A1
EPA Ties Fracking, Pollution: Popular Drilling Technique Blamed for Tainting Water Supply in Wyoming Town by Solomon and Gold Dec 9 2011 p. A1
These articles discuss different dimensions of problematic aspects of fracking for gas and oil.
Fracking uses an incredible amount of fresh water and fracking fluids contaminate water tables.
The exact amount of water used is not detailed but the first article notes that "it takes 407 million gallons to irrigate 640 acres and grow about $200,000 worth of corn on arid land. The same amount of water, he says, could be used to frack enough wells to generate $2.5 billion worth of oil" (Gold & Campoy, p. A1).
The problem is once the water is gone, having been exhausted fracking, there is none left for farming.
Humans can survive without natural gas and oil (albeit the transition will not be fun) but we are simply not going to survive if we do not have fresh water suitable for irrigation.
That brings us to the second article.
Fracking doesn't just exhaust water supplies, it contaminates them! The EPA has finally founded conclusive evidence that fracking contaminates water supplies, a claim long challenged by the natural gas industry.
The article this was reported in by Solomon and Gold attributes the contamination to improperly built wells. However, I've read other reports that claim the process itself, not improperly constructed wells, contaminates water.
The US midwestern, western, and southwestern parts of the country are facing significant water shortages and yet these regions are also critical for their contributions to our national food supply.
We need to think hard about fracking's impact on our water or our children may very well go hungry and sicken from contaminated water supplies.
Other posts on fracking:
Fracking and the Environment: Natural Gas Drilling, Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Contamination http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/3/fracking_and_the_environment_natural_gasn