Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial issue to say the least. Opponents fear ecological damage and advocates point to energy independence and economic benefits. One often overlooked benefit of fracking is the increased use of natural gas. Natural gas when burned emits far less CO2 than oil, which is very helpful in the fight against global warming. AEI has an interesting study on natural gas production:
The chart above shows the Department of Energy’s estimates of CO2 emissions per capitafrom 1973 to 2040. Total energy-related carbon emissions are expected to fall to a 20-year low this year, and on a per-capita basis will be the lowest since at least 1973 when the Department of Energy’s data begins. From the current level of 17 tons per capita, we can expect CO2 emissions per capita to fall to 14 tons per capita in 2040, a 25.2% decrease. One of the largest contributing factors in the reduction of CO2 emissions is the switch from coal to gas for electricity generation and the switch from fuel oil to natural gas as a fuel source for heating homes and commercial buildings.
In my opinion, global warming concerns trump the environmental risks of fracking, plain and simple. Even if water tables are polluted (the risk of which has not been established), isn’t water filtration a lesser worry than global climate change?