2013 Conference of the International Medical Geology Association (25–29 August 2013)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 4:10 PM


WILSON, Richard, Philosophy/School of Engineering, University of Maryland - Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, rwilso4@umbc.edu

This paper is aimed at exploring the ethical, social, and legal issues related to “fracking’. In order to accomplish these tasks it will 1stbe necessary to describe the processes involved in fracking. Fracking is a process which the extraction of natural gas and some oil, from the pores or between the layers of deep shale formations. The extraction of natural gas requires a borehole which is dug down to the deep shale formation. After the hole is dug, a pipe is inserted into the borehole where it is encased with cement, and then a perforation gun perforates the casing into the shale. The shale is next fractured further with fracking fluids, including water, sand, and proprietary fluids. Fracking fluids are forced down into a well and pressurized causing the initial fracture to spread in the shale along natural fracture lines.

The technical problems with fracking create a number of ethical, social, and legal problems related to the environment. Some of these issues include land clearing for digging the wells, the impact on freshwater aquifers, and the well bore. Once the well bore is created, fracking uses 1 to 5 million gallons of water, that is inserted into the shale along with proprietary fluids. It is important to explore the ethical, social and legal ramifications of these issues.

Given the significance of fracking as a source of meeting our baseline energy needs, we find that 3 important questions arise. What are the ethical, social, and legal issues that arise with fracking? What role should fracking play in meeting our future energy needs? Is fracking a viable solution to our energy needs? Through a stakeholder based ethical, social, and legal analysis we can attempt to generate answers to these questions as well as develop recommendations about future strategies and public policy involving fracking.