EDITORIAL: Fracking's impact on water supplies looking better
Source: http://www.beaumontenterprise.com, December 26, 2013
Fracking has caused a bonanza of oil and gas production in the United States, but it has its detractors. And one of their chief complaints was that it used too much water, as much as five million gallons per well, even though it accounts for less than 1 percent of the water consumed in a big oil-producing state like Texas.
Yet a new study by the University of Texas at Austin indicates that fracking actually cuts overall water use for energy. As the price of natural gas has declined, some utilities have switched to using gas instead of coal to produce electricity. The amount of water saved by shifting a power plant to gas from coal is 25 to 50 times greater than the amount needed to get the natural gas via fracking.
Trade-offs like that must be kept in mind when looking at energy production and use in this country. No aspect of this complex equation is pure. For example, wind farms have been increasingly criticized for their large numbers of bird deaths caused by turbine blades.
Even if alternative forms of energy like wind and solar can increase in coming years, oil and natural gas will remain fundamental to our energy needs. And the bottom line on fracking is that it has produced so much oil and gas that this country is less dependent than ever on oil imports from the volatile Mideast.
Fracking should be monitored wherever it occurs to ensure it doesn’t drain area water supplies or contaminate ground water. But the pluses far outweigh the drawbacks, which is why few states or locales have banned it nationwide.