If you talk to proponents of fracking they like to spout the line that hydraulic fracturing is actually completely safe and all the negatives associated with it are simply misplaced. You might be thinking, but what about the multiple cases of aquifer contamination, or the earthquakes in Ohio, or methane leaks that could possibly make fracking a greater contributor to global warming than coal – none of those are caused by fracking? Well technically no. Technically, the pro-frackers are correct.
Aquifer contamination and methane leaks are caused by poor or faulty well construction, and the earthquakes were caused by the improper disposal of fracking liquids. So it’s not the actual hydraulic fracturing that causes the problems; the problems are caused by errors in the fracking process not the fracking itself. Kind of like saying guns don’t kill people it’s the bullets. The result is we get those in the industry crying out that fracking unfairly gets a bad reputation, and it is neither a threat to our communities nor our environment. They claim we just have to prevent those mistake and errors from happening, and then we will finally have ‘safe, clean’ energy. So basically all we have to do is make sure people aren’t human.
And there lies the problem. The consequences of fracking are essentially unavoidable; people are always going to make mistakes. The one obvious solution to minimize this problem (still not end it though) is more regulation, which most industries fight tooth and nail to avoid. So the actual act of fracking may not be harmful to the environment, but the same cannot be said for the process as a whole. The process will always be subject to human error that can lead to devastating effects for both people and the environment.