On Sunday, the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, became illegal in Washington State.
Supporters of the ban say it’s a victory for the environment. Opponents say that it’s a meaningless gesture that betrays a lack of knowledge about how fracking works.
During the past fifteen years, the use of hydraulic fracturing to access oil and natural gas has skyrocketed. This technique involves injecting a pressurized mixture of water, sand, and chemicals far into the ground to break up rock and release natural gas or oil. It is largely responsible for the increased production of these energy sources in the U.S.
The technique has its critics, however. Some say that it pollutes groundwater and also diverts water from other sources. Others argue that by making it cheaper to access oil and natural gas, fracking is contributing to climate change.
Fracking has its supporters, however. They argue that fracking has reduce the price of natural gas, which has allowed gas to displace coal for energy production. That, they point out, has reduced U.S. carbon emissions. These supporters also point to studies that show that fracking does not pollute water sources.
This debate was largely symbolic in Washington, however. That state does not have a large oil and natural gas industry, and fracking was not used there. With the passage of the fracking ban, this process cannot be used in the future, either.
Do you think that fracking should be banned?