What’s the Deal With Shale?

What’s the Deal With Shale?

Oil and gas companies are starting to sing the praises of these small, shiny, chalk-like lumps of black rock called shale. The rock, which is found in an abundance of huge deposits beneath the earth, has been found to possess large quantities of natural gas within it, which can be extracted through a process called “fracking.” The oil and gas companies call it the energy of the future, citing enough supply to last another 200 years, as well as the fact that shale has half the emissions that burning something like coal would.

Other people, such as renewable energy activists, aren’t so sure about the future of shale. In fact, they’re starting to downright hate it. Activists say that shale is just another fossil fuel to become dependent on. Not only will this supply run out too, but it will definitely undermine the new efforts to concentrate on renewable energy. They also cite the fact that the shale process, while admittedly having fewer emissions than the regular processes today, those emissions will still be harmful to the environment, and will only increase global warming. It would also appear that shale releases a fair amount of methane gas during the process of fracking – a potentially much more harmful gas than carbon dioxide.

They also argue that the actual process of fracking can have disastrous results. Reports have come from fracking sites that there have been horrible gas leaks, land contamination from chemicals that are used during fracking, and drinking water in the area becoming polluted by the drilling. In addition, it would appear that it can also have huge negative health affects on those families who live near a fracking site, or on people who work at the sites as well.

The footprint of shale gas is also a huge argument. While today’s emissions are constantly being tracked in terms of their carbon footprint, shale would eventually start to produce one too. According to activists, this footprint could be huge in scale, and would negate any possible benefits of the shale as. The argument stands that shale must be scaled back and renewable energy – such as wind turbines and solar panels – be allowed to flourish.

Already, the production of renewable energy sources has started to drop off dramatically as energy companies start to turn to shale instead of their previous plan of all renewable energy. Shale is certainly a much cheaper alternative to the renewable energy. In the U.S., there is already an artificially low price for natural gas due to shale. Consumers are certainly enjoying much lower prices, and if lower energy prices can be sustained in the future, consumers would certainly advocate for that. However, it would appear that the costs of using shale energy are going to far outweigh the benefits in the end. If people could look forward 200 years to when shale energy runs out, it is a fair bet that they would look back and wish they had switched to renewable energy.

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