The Instigator
jdjrokr
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
bluesteel
Con (against)
Winning
45 Points

A Resolution to Increase Natural Gas Production

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/7/2010 Category: Health
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,026 times Debate No: 13304
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (7)

 

jdjrokr

Pro

WHEREAS US demand for oil continues to grow, and
WHEREAS the United States furnishes just two percent of its supply from native sources, and much
of the oil in the rest of the world exists in conflict areas, and
WHEREAS the price of oil will likely rise as the finite global supply dwindles further, and

WHEREAS the United States economy could be bankrupted by attempts to purchase this
unsustainable resource from hostile foreign powers,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Student Congress here assembled that significant monies be
spent to increase research and development of Hydraulic Fracturing or "Fracking," a process which
releases and captures underground reserves of natural gas. Our estimated 2587 trillion cubic feet of
natural gas would produce enough energy for US consumption for years to come, during which time
more sustainable resources can be developed to replace fossil fuels entirely.

You Start!
bluesteel

Con

I would like to remind my opponent that he has the burden of proof in this round, as the instigator, to prove that government-funded "fracking" would do more good than harm in the United States.

I also take issue with my opponent's second Whereas: "the United States furnishes just two percent of its supply from native sources, and much of the oil in the rest of the world exists in conflict areas"

This is empirically false. According to the Energy Information Agency, two of the top exporters of oil to the U.S. are Canada and Saudi Arabia, which are definitely not in a conflict zone. [1] A great deal of the oil that China is currently pursuing is in conflict zones in Africa, but the U.S. has already secured much more secure foreign sources of oil. In addition, approximately 50% of the oil consumed in the United States is from domestic sources. The Energy Information Agency furthers, "In 2009, about 51% of the petroleum consumed by the United States was imported from foreign countries." [2] The rest is produced domestically.

In addition, oil and natural gas are not really substitutes for each other. Natural gas is mostly used in power generation and heating; oil, in contrast, is mostly used in transportation (cars). People do not own cars that can run on natural gas. So my opponent has yet to provide a real reason why fracking would be desirable.

In addition, I challenge my opponent to prove that fracking is profitable, meaning that the cost of fracking is lower than the price that the natural gas can be sold for. Countries with access to cheap natural gas sources (like Russia) will be able to keep the price of natural gas far below the price at which fracking becomes profitable. According to the Energy Technology Systems Analysis Programme, producing natural gas from unconventional sources like fracking costs 5 times more than producing it from conventional sources. [3] If fracking is not economically profitable, the U.S. would lose money by pursuing fracking. Companies would refuse to pursue a drilling technique that loses them money.

The United States does not need huge increases in domestic natural gas production. We currently produce about 85% of our natural gas domestically. [4] There is no need for Congress to step up production by subsidizing fracking.

In addition, fracking is bad.

1. Contaminated groundwater

Fracking is dangerous because of its potential to contaminate groundwater supplies. According to Daniel Gross of Slate in 2010, "In recent years, discoveries of reserves locked in shale rock in Texas (the Barnett Shale) and in the Appalachians (the Marcellus Shale) have spurred a boom. But shale gas is also tough energy. The gas is produced via fracking—fracturing the rock with water and chemical solvents to loosen up the gas molecules. The environmental risk? The water mixed with solvents could filter into underground aquifers. Inconveniently, the Marcellus Shale overlaps with the watershed of the New York City region." [5] Any major fracking increase would likely result in drilling the Marcellus Shale, which would contaminate New York Cities drinking water. Fracking fluids contain many potential carcinogens, and according to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study, between 20% and 85% of the fracking fluids stay underground and do not return to the surface. [6] The potential for these cancer-causing drilling fluids to seep into groundwater is enormous.

In addition, the natural gas itself can seep into drinking water. Josh Fox's documentary "Gasland" shows people lighting their sinks on fire because so much natural gas has seeped into their drinking water (see citation for a picture). [7]

2. Water consumption

To fracture the natural gas shale rock, massive amounts of water are needed. The typical fracking well (which is usually a horizontal well) takes 6 million gallons of water to frack.[8] According to the Government Accountability Office, 36 states currently face water shortages and cannot afford to divert massive amounts of water to fracking. [9] Reader's Digest explains that the situation is dire: "The drought currently punishing the Southeast has been rated ‘exceptional' by climatologists—the kind that happens once every 50 to 100 years. As one dry month follows another, states and municipalities have imposed tight restrictions on outdoor water use for landscaping, swimming pools, and car washing, and Georgia's governor has required local governments to cut water consumption by ten percent . . . While lack of rainfall is the immediate culprit, the underlying problem is more profound: a water supply that cannot keep pace with a rapidly expanding population." [10] The U.S. cannot spare the massive amount of water that fracking requires.

3. Global warming

What my opponent is proposing in this round is a government subsidy to the natural gas industry to help them pay for fracking. However, this is a move in the wrong direction. The United States should instead be subsidizing renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. From 2002 to 2008, the U.S. spent $72.5 billion subsidizing fossil fuels and only $29 billion subsidizing renewable energy. [11] If the government is going to subsidize anything, it should subsidize green energy. The International Energy Agency actually recommends that countries cut fossil fuel subsidies to encourage greater fuel efficiency, in order to decrease the use of fossil fuels. [12] Subsidies artificially drive down the price of fossil fuels and increase consumption of these dirty forms of energy.

In addition, money spent on green energy creates more jobs than money spent on fossil fuels. According to the Center for American Progress, "The clean-energy sector produces more jobs per dollar than the fossil fuels industry." [13]

The drilling process for natural gas shale (fracking) releases more carbon dioxide than traditional drilling techniques. According to Alternet, "Government studies show that exploiting unconventional fossil-fuel reserves generates more C02 emissions than drilling for conventional oil and gas and uses three to five times more water. ‘It's a pact with the devil,' says Randy Udall, a consulting energy analyst from Colorado." [14]

Lastly, if we want to avoid the very worst scenarios for global warming (like massive flood damage and crop losses amount to a 20% loss of world GDP), we need to leave unconventional fossil fuel sources in the ground. This point is underscored by Jim Hansen of Columbia University, who says that to avoid the worst climate change scenarios, "we cannot heavily exploit unconventional fossil fuels . . . and we should not be pursuing every last drop of oil on the planet." [15]

[1] http://www.eia.doe.gov...

[2] http://www.eia.doe.gov...

[3] http://www.etsap.org...

[4] http://www.eia.gov...

[5] http://www.slate.com...

[6] http://www.mnn.com...

[7] http://www.nytimes.com...

[8] http://www.timesleader.com...

[9] http://www.naturalnews.com...

[10] http://www.rd.com...

[11] http://www.grist.org...

[12] http://news.cnet.com...

[13] http://www.americanprogress.org...

[14] http://www.alternet.org...

[15] http://www.columbia.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
bluesteel

Con

Lol, gee thanks.

Extend my case.

If your intent was to get "free research" on your Congress bills, I'd appreciate it if you would concede the next round to me as well, as soon as possible.
Debate Round No. 2
jdjrokr

Pro

As you wish
bluesteel

Con

Great

Extend my case - fracking is bad.

Vote con.
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by ashwathc 6 years ago
ashwathc
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starvard
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Vote Placed by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
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LaissezFaire
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Vote Placed by J.Kenyon 6 years ago
J.Kenyon
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Vote Placed by m93samman 6 years ago
m93samman
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