The Instigator
kingkd
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
whiteflame
Pro (for)
Winning
12 Points

Be it resolved that hydraulic fracturing be banned from the USA

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
whiteflame
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/18/2014 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,580 times Debate No: 49409
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (21)
Votes (4)

 

kingkd

Con

Many people believe that fracking (hydraulic fracturing) should be banned. If you are one of those people, accept the challenge.
whiteflame

Pro

Been interested in having a fracking debate for quite a while now, and I'll gladly take the Pro side here. Thanks to kingkd for bringing forward this topic for discussion.

As my opponent has not yet posted his arguments, I too will abstain from posting mine, and I'll instead encourage him to start this debate by supporting the usage of fracking in the U.S. I will, however, attempt to clarify what we'll be arguing.

Since I am on the Pro side, and since my opponent has not clarified specifically what he means by a ban, I will do so.

"to forbid people from using (something) : to say that something cannot be used or done."

http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Further, I'd like to state that a ban is not a permanent state of being. Should the problems that I will articulate be solved by technological advances (something I feel is unlikely, but possible), the ban could be rescinded. Therefore, my argument is that, in the short term (the next 5 years at least), a ban should be implemented and enforced. Since neither my opponent nor myself can be certain as to what would occur technologically outside of that time frame, I feel it's reasonable to set that as the boundary.

Nor does this ban apply to all attempts at fracking, but rather, those that would be used for the purposes of acquiring natural gas from underground. It is still possible, under such a ban, to test the processes used for fracking outside of a commercial setting, so long as it is strongly controlled and kept away from towns and cities.

Now, what are we talking about banning?

"Hydraulic fracturing is the fracturing of rock by a pressurized liquid. Some hydraulic fractures form naturally"certain veins or dikes are examples. Induced hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracturing is a technique in which typically water is mixed with sand and chemicals, and the mixture is injected at high pressure into a wellbore to create small fractures (typically less than 1mm), along which fluids such as gas, petroleum, uranium-bearing solution, and brine water may migrate to the well. Hydraulic pressure is removed from the well, then small grains of proppant (sand or aluminium oxide) hold these fractures open once the rock achieves equilibrium. The technique is very common in wells for shale gas, tight gas, tight oil, and coal seam gas and hard rock wells. This well stimulation is usually conducted once in the life of the well and greatly enhances fluid removal and well productivity, but there has been an increasing trend towards multiple hydraulic fracturing as production declines."

http://en.wikipedia.org...

As I believe I've defined the terms adequately, as well as my position in this debate, I await my opponent's opening arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
kingkd

Con


Thank you for responding. I shall now list my three main arguements. First of all, I think we can all agree that fracking is beneficial for our economy. The USA is now the lead producer of oil, ahead of even Saudi Arabia. Fracking is a 385 billion dollar industry that supports 1.7 million jobs. North Dakota is a profound example of this. Ever since the Bakken Shale has been discovered, there has been only 3.1% unemployment compared to the national average of 7.7%. In North Dakota, there are 40,000 people who have fracking jobs and average salries have grown 1.4%.

Fracking is not bad for the environment. Actually, fracking produces half the emissions of coal. Also, 90% of the hydraulic fracturing fluid is water, and around 5 to 7% sand. Most of the alleged chemicals in frack fluid are slickeners. Hydraulic fracturing surprisingly uses less water. Fracking requires just 0.6 to 5.8 gallons of water per million Btu of energy produced. By comparison, “renewable” and “sustainable” corn-based ethanol requires 2,510 to 29,100 gallons per million Btu of usable energy. Biodiesel from soybeans consumes 14,000 to 75,000 gallons of water per million Btu. Also, in a study of 200 water wells near fracking sites, the water quality stayed the same before and after except in one case. The myth about fracking causing earthquakes has not been confirmed.

The process of fracking is not the problem, but rather poor maintenence. 6 to 7% percent of wells are built incorrectly, causing the leaks. A mobile water evaporator, for example, can eliminate the wastewater before it leaks. I agree with the fact that their should be stricter regulations for building and watching over the wells. But banning it outright is not the correct way to go.

http://www.fool.com...

http://online.wsj.com...

whiteflame

Pro

Alright, I'd like to thank my opponent for providing an interesting first round of arguments to this debate, and with that, I'm going to launch into mine.

So before I launch into my first point, I'd like to talk about the Precautionary Principle. Essentially, it states that if an action or policy is suspected of causing some harm to either the public or the environment, then the burden of proof lies mostly on proving the lack of a harm. It's a principle used by policy markers when scientific knowledge is either lacking or uncertain, and it implies a basic level of social responsibility to protect the public from harm. I think we can all agree that, at the end of the day, those harms are the most important to consider, whether from an economic, environmental or health standpoint.

Therefore, the burden of proof is on Con in this debate. He must prove either that fracking can cause no demonstrable harm to humans, or that the restrictions he presents will adequately protect human beings from any and all such harms.

Now, starting on my points.

One of the most well-known problems with this is groundwater contamination. In 2008, a hydrologist found benzene in a water well in Wyoming above where fracking was occurring.[1] There is a tremendous amount of film available showing that flammable gas is leaking through dinking water pipes, which poses a dramatic risk to homes and their inhabitants.[2] Lives are placed at risk, as well as livelihoods.

But Con will probably say that his restrictions solve for all this. Sadly, that is wrong. This problem results from two key problems that aren't going to be solved by the regulations he's proposed. The first of these is that the fluids used fracking are considered to be proprietary formulas.[3] Most companies don't disclose nearly enough information on the chemicals used in fracking.[4] Include all of the regulations he's stated in R2, and you don't get around this. They will still be injecting these chemicals into the ground at high pressure. Some of them will go into groundwater sources, even with the best regulations, since we don't know where all of them are, since extensive techniques must commonly be used to be certain.[5] The second problem is how it's done. The process of injection is mostly safe when the wellbores are constructed strongly, but the injection itself is meant to send large amounts of chemicals outward into porous soil, from which it cannot possibly all be recovered.[6] Hell, porous rock is normally required at the point of injection.[7] In other words, it's a part of the process. Unless Con means to institute an effectual ban by regulating them out of using a process necessary to continue fracking, he's simply not solving for this.

Onto another point that is commonly known to be associated with fracking: earthquakes. Con's own #3 actually supports my point here quite well. It provides all the background I could ever need on how fracking has led to earthquakes at a number of different locations, something that Con actually concedes.[8] He simply says that he can solve for this. Of course, that ignores much of what the article itself says:

"Drillers inject high-pressure fluids into a hydraulic fracturing well, making slight fissures in the shale that release natural gas. The wastewater that flows back up with the gas is then transported to disposal wells, where it is injected deep into porous rock. Scientists now believe that the pressure and lubrication of that wastewater can cause faults to slip and unleash an earthquake."[8]

"Too much wastewater in a disposal well forces liquid downward and outward, he adds. It can meander for months, creeping into unknown faults and prying the rock apart just enough to release pent-up energy."[8]

Remember all those nice regulations Con touts? Well, one of the current ones is disposal of fracking fluid. It's done by injection, which can cause earthquakes.[6] Again, Con would have to remove an integral piece of how fracking works to solve for this.

Now, let's talk air pollution. I'm not saying that oil or coal are good, but natural gas is, at best, no better, and at worst, dramatically worse. Recent studies have shown that methane, a more potent greenhouse gas, is leaking out of the soil and into the air from many of these wells.[9] This leakage is thought, again, to result from the porosity of soil, which allows gas to travel through it in the event that the rock around that gas is disrupted. That's exactly what fracking is supposed to do. It's only a short term solution, as the amount of natural gas available to be fracked is still limited. It also releases CO2 when burned, producing a smaller but still substantial amount of the greenhouse gas.

The biggest effect, however, is one that is not direct. The price of natural gas is so low that many companies are simply abandoning renewable energy alternatives.[10] It's gone so far that natural gas " a resource-limited, carbon dioxide-emitting fuel source " is being rebranded as green energy by the European Union![11] So sure, putting aside the methane emissions, may be we benefit from lower carbon dioxide emissions. But the reality is that it's pushing back our progress in biofuels and green energy, which means we're just going to keep burning for longer. It's a net detriment in the long term.

But let's go back to the Precautionary Principle, because what we know isn't all that matters here. Most companies engaging in fracking is currently exempt from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Con hasn't stated that he would force them to adhere, so they're being held to a different standards than literally every other industry. They deny many scientists access to the wells to actively prevent us from understanding the impacts of fracking. They even go so far as to use lawsuits to prevent what information does come out from being disclosed.[12, 13]

Unfortunately, I don't have the space to fully address Con's economic points here, so I'll leave that for the next round. For the time being, I'll simply state two things. First, any economic benefit is transient at best and actually causes more harm in the long term. And second, the environmental and health harms are always going to outweigh due to the long-term impacts they create. Even billions of dollars are not worth a devastating earthquake and people poisoned by their own drinking water.

With that, I return this debate to my opponent's hands to refute my case and build on his.

1. http://www.npr.org...
2. www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=natural-gas-make-water-burn
3. http://www.psr.org...
4. http://twon.tamu.edu...
5. http://water.usgs.gov...
6. http://www.scribd.com...
7. http://twon.tamu.edu...
8. http://www.motherjones.com...
9. http://www.nature.com...
10. www.greenoptimistic.com/2012/10/31/biofuel-companies-miss-the-point-turn-to-natural-gas/#.UymwC4W-jC4
11. http://www.livescience.com...
12. http://www.theguardian.com...
13. http://www.ucsusa.org...
Debate Round No. 2
kingkd

Con

kingkd forfeited this round.
whiteflame

Pro

Though my opponent forfeited the last round, he did post some arguments to the comments. In the spirit of good debate, I'll post those arguments here and respond to them before launching into my rebuttals of the economic points.

"Fracking does not actually decrease the water wuality much. Making the wells burn is an exaggeration. Wells have been leaking even before fracking. You can't blame fracking for every problem in extracting oil."

Yes, quality wasn't great to begin with, and fracking isn't the only source of blame. But this point ignores my [1] and [2], and no, it's not an exaggeration. If you need a more dramatic presentation of it, there's plenty of video online of people lighting their tap water on fire. I've posted one.

https://www.youtube.com...

This also ignores the point I made about how we don't know what chemicals they're using because they're proprietary, look to my [3] and [4]. We also don't know the sites of ground water in order to avoid them, look to my [5], nor could we avoid them if we did, look to my [6] and [7].

"Quote:"First, any economic benefit is transient at best". Fracking is worth billions, and this is only "transient"? This large amount of energy has slowly reduced the growth of gas prices. Our economy is really helped."

I'll get to those shortly.

"Quote:"And second, the environmental and health harms are always going to outweigh due to the long-term impacts they create. Even billions of dollars are not worth a devastating earthquake and people poisoned by their own drinking water." Most of the environmental affects are greatly exxagerated. All problems of energy are being attributed to fracking. Other methods are worse, fracking is safer and has not contaminated many wells. In the few exceptions, it is because bad maintenance and quality. THere are not enough regulations and few accidents, but this does not mean that the process of hydrualic fracturing is detrimental. If you misidentify the problem, you misidentify the dolutions."

Con provides no support for these assertions, nor are they responsive to my points. Yes, other methods are bad. That doesn't mean we should compound them with more bad methods. I've provided substantial reasons why this is harmful that go above and beyond current methods. Con ignores my points about earthquakes (my [6]), and more importantly, my points about how the regulations he's proposing can't fix any of the problems (my [7], [8], [9], [12] and [13]).

""many companies are simply abandoning renewable energy alternatives" Just because some people stop using renewable resources does not mean that fracking is to blame."

No, low cost fossil fuels are to blame. And fracking provides that. Look to my [10] and [11].

"Also (adding on) is the burden of proof not on the affirmative? Affirmative is trying to ban a process already thought as accepted, and should therefore try to prove that it is more detrimental than beneficial. I may be wrong, but just asking"

This is, in no way, responsive to my point on the Precautionary Principle. I've provided the better reasoning for who carries the burden in this debate. But I also think that I've fulfilled this burden by presenting definitive problems that cannot be fixed by regulation.

Alright, with that, I'll provide some argumentation regarding economics. While I would first state that the Precautionary Principle denies that this is the most important outcome, as actual health harms and environmental damage should always outweigh, I'll also argue that the benefits are transient, and actually create more problems than they solve.

Fracking has been shown to be a low sum game. Whether you're fracking for oil or gas, fracking only allows access to very small amounts of oil or gas trapped in the rock. Withdrawal of either fossil fuel will normally peak after just a few years, and then begin a rapid decline. Each new source, therefore, requires more fracking over a larger area, and often the movement of operations. This is true even of the Bakken shale in North Dakota that my opponent touts as a fantastic source.[14]

So, why should we care? Well, for one, that increases the costs of fracking since you can't just make a well and sit there over a long period of time. But more importantly, it creates periods of huge economic booms followed by similarly huge economic busts. All we need to do here is look at Pennsylvania's Bradford County, a place where fracking companies saw quite a bit of theoretical benefit. They paid residents to frack under and near their homes, had new motels built and staffed in order to accommodate the massive influx of workers, and many of the businesses in town either expanded or, at the very least, acquired far more resources in order to field more customers. Then they left. Whether this was due to the difficulties involved in acquiring natural gas, the plunging cost of natural gas worldwide, or the need to plumb new sites hardly matters " the town was hit hard. Residents who depended upon the money from fracking companies won't receive it, motel owners will have to close down, and other businesses will suffer the effects of lost resources. The best you can say is that they have increased tourism, but even that should flag with time.[15]

But hey, at least they got a short term boost, right? Not really. Not only does it do long term damage that can't be fixed, disfiguring the landscape, as it has done in North Dakota,[16] but the damage is happening now in Texas towns. The water required for fracking is tremendous, and they tend to get it from the area itself. That leaves the ground dry, and many of the operations that require water parched. Agriculture suffers, as do cattle ranchers and the people at large, who now have to pay more to get their water.[17] Just like the boomtowns that resulted from oil extraction, these are leaving towns behind that are shells of their former selves. States that are enabled by their natural gas resources are still low in their Human Development Index ratings, which means the people there aren't seeing the benefits, even in the short term.[18] They remain among the poorest in the country. And that's during the boom. The bust, however, is inevitable, as I stated above.

And that's not to mention that there's even more dramatic environmental harms as a result of this abandonment of wells. Methane leaks are a huge issue from abandoned wells in Pennsylvania, creating dangers of explosion.[19] That methane is contaminating drinking water across the country, along with millions of gallons of wastewater.[20, 21] Recycling that wastewater would be good regulation, but far from perfect, as many of these methods leave behind salt, sludge, radioactive material, and carcinogens, not to mention that disposal is still a question following reuse.[22] The health risks have been elucidated both for humans and animals near drilling sites, and they're pervasive, affecting nearly every tissue.[23] The lack of disclosure and access that I mentioned earlier, however, prevent full testing, so these may simply be the tip of the iceberg.

I'll hand the debate back to Con.

14. http://www.climatecentral.org...
15. http://articles.philly.com...
16. http://www2.ljworld.com...
17. http://www.theguardian.com...
18. http://motherboard.vice.com...
19. http://stateimpact.npr.org...
20. http://www.pnas.org...
21. http://www.nytimes.com...
22. http://www.nytimes.com...
23. http://www.psehealthyenergy.org...
Debate Round No. 3
kingkd

Con

kingkd forfeited this round.
whiteflame

Pro

Well, that's really too bad. I had hoped that this debate would be very substantial, and sadly kingkd has forfeited again.

There's really not much left to say here. I've established that there is a significant environmental harm. For those who are not convinced, there's little more I can say. The reality is that Con is right that, at the very least, natural gas releases less CO2 than oil and coal, and therefore it looks like a better alternative. However, it only serves to extend our dependence on fossil fuels. Con would have to have shown that my point about how green energy will be held back was faulted, but he couldn't. The low cost of natural gas has made it so cheap for companies to use that many are just abandoning green tech projects in favor of using natural gas. That means that they're going to be dependent of fossil fuels for longer, which means that we will eventually use every bit of oil and coal we can, along with all of our natural gas.

He's also losing on the economic debate. I've shown that the boom and bust cycles it creates are net harmful to the region, as is the economic damage that results from environmental harms. As such, we can only conclude that any transient benefits we might receive from getting this gas are going to cause more harm than good.

Now I leave it to the voters to decide this debate.
Debate Round No. 4
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
I repeat: if you're not willing to have an actual debate over this topic, then this conversation is over.
Posted by LifeMeansGodIsGood 3 years ago
LifeMeansGodIsGood
The point of the intentional misspelling is political correctness to conform with peer pressure liberlism. Anti-fracking hysteria is a rouse only designed to continue the weakening of the USA. The argument against fracking is skewed by a peer pressed politcally correct mindset that ignores common sense.

it's a politcal mindset issue, not nitpicking spelling and grammar.
Posted by wordy 3 years ago
wordy
"People who spell hysterical "histerical" probably prounounce harassment as "hairessment"."--> Strawman and nonsense.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
And could you please stop nitpicking my S&G? All your complaints there are minimal at best, and they have nothing to do with the veracity of my argument.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
So my arguments are so bad that I should concede to someone who forfeited two rounds of debate, yet you aren't willing to try your supposedly superior arguments against them? Hell, I'll post the exact same second round post, and include much of the expansion I made in R3. You don't get to call for my concession unless you can show me, with warrants and evidence, why I should concede. Sorry to put it so brusquely, but put up or shut up.
Posted by LifeMeansGodIsGood 3 years ago
LifeMeansGodIsGood
Harassment.......I believe is the correct spelling, and the pronunciation is self explanatory, People who spell hysterical "histerical" probably prounounce harassment as "hairessment". These are signs of a person who caves to peer pressure. There is a lot of peer pressure pushing people to make exaggerated and false claims of damages from fracking. Fracking is hated by some factions because it adds to the strength and security of the United States. Anti-fracking people are generally in the crowd who appluaded Obama for making his world-wide apology tour, going around telling other world leaders why he believes his country is so rotten. I think they should all move to China or Russia, instead of trying to make the USA subservient to foreign powers using "save the environment" as a mask for their real intentions.
Posted by LifeMeansGodIsGood 3 years ago
LifeMeansGodIsGood
I don't see how anybody can win a debate when they are not certain of their own arguments. Procedural rules and etiquette should now be allowed to compensate for unsound logic. As soon as I think I am wrong or could be wrong on a topic after I have asserted that I am right, I would admit to being wrong and concede the debate. Con's argument against the banning of all fracking is the winning argument. To call for the ban of all fracking is hysterical........a word which I have never in my life misspelled as "histerical". That would be like pronouncing harrassment as "hairessment". It's dumb. Pro should concede the debate based on his own comments.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
First off, hysterical is spelled with a "y." I do have basic spell check, though I didn't really need it in this instance.

Second, if you're not willing to debate it, then I have little incentive to continue posting in the comments here, where I'm limited to 2000 characters a post and no obligations to support our arguments exist.

Third, you obviously feel very strongly about this topic, but much of your arguments here are obviously biased and unsourced. I've provided almost 2 dozen citations in support of my argument. Maybe you don't buy those sources, but you have to provide something that can counter them beyond your own opinion.

Lastly, many of my arguments state specifically why a full ban is necessary in order to end the major harms. Maybe you don't buy groundwater contamination, but it's happening. Even if you don't, though, I've provided a plethora of other environmental and economic reasons to support the resolution. I agree, it would be problematic to outright ban fracking, and I'm not quite certain that I agree with my own argument here. I would probably support hefty regulations over a ban. But that's the topic, and that's what I argued.
Posted by LifeMeansGodIsGood 3 years ago
LifeMeansGodIsGood
Calling for an outright ban on fracking is hysterical.......it's a good thing there are not a votes to stop the fracking.
Posted by LifeMeansGodIsGood 3 years ago
LifeMeansGodIsGood
I said I wonder if con was an environmentalist........that was a mistake, I was referring to pro ....had it confused as I though the instigator was pro.......I'm a bit new at this.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by The_Scapegoat_bleats 3 years ago
The_Scapegoat_bleats
kingkdwhiteflameTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.
Vote Placed by GodChoosesLife 3 years ago
GodChoosesLife
kingkdwhiteflameTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con FF two rounds while Pro remained stating his arguments and rebuttals.
Vote Placed by Wylted 3 years ago
Wylted
kingkdwhiteflameTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Because of the forfeits, con had no chance of properly refuting pro's arguments or building on his own.
Vote Placed by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
kingkdwhiteflameTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF