The Instigator
Pro (for)
1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

Offshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) - Should it be banned?

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/8/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,884 times Debate No: 45444
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I am for Offshore Hydraulic Fracturing to be banned.
First - Acceptance.
Next two - Constructive.


As the con, I stand to negate the resolution. I hold that the means of accessing natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) should NOT be entirely banned within the United States.

I reserve the right to argue in favor of not banning it while increasing regulations and restrictions on the practice, in addition to better enforcement of current laws.
Debate Round No. 1


Firstly I would like to say thankyou to my Contender, Hierocles. May this debate be constructive and educational.
Offshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking), should, in my opinion, be banned completely due to the implications in which it is certain to leave behind. Simply stated, the ends do not justify the means.
In 2010, it was estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that 70 to 140 billion gallons of water was used to fracture 35,000 wells in the United States each year. This is the average annual water consumption of 40 to 80 cities each with a population of 50,000. (See more at: ) The extraction of so much water for fracking has understandably raised concerns in relation to depletion of fresh water zones which may also be required for human consumption. In accordance with these figures, it must be noted that it requires an average of 200 truck trips per 1 million gallons of water, this means that in 2010 there was roughly 14,000 truck trips at the lowest for the process of fracking alone. With all this being said, air quality will be immensely affected if fracking is not banned.


@joza, thank you for setting up this debate. May the best argumentation win! Cheers!

Fracking should NOT be entirely banned within the sovereign territory (including bodies of water) of the United States. Rather, it should remain legal under tighter restrictions. I will provide an interpretation of the resolution, outline the current immense benefits of fracking, and then explain how all of pro's concerns can be addressed through stronger regulations.

Interpretation of Resolution: Pro believes that all off-shore fracking should be banned. Off-shore fracking is fracking conducted on platforms a few miles out to sea. However, the only evidence he cited in his round 2 response referred only to fracking done on land. His main concern is that fracking requires too much fresh water. However, off-shore fracking only uses salt water found in the ocean ( So off-shore fracking has zero impact on fresh water supplies. You should vote CON on that alone since pro's main contention is not applicable to the resolution at hand, off-shore fracking NOT on-land fracking. However, in the spirit of the resolution's intent, I will argue in favor of keeping both off-shore and on-land fracking legal under tighter restrictions.

1. Benefits of Fracking / Natural Gas

A. Fracked Natural Gas is Cleaner than Other Carbon Based Fuels

Pro is concerned about the environment, but banning fracking will cause greater harm to the environment by forcing more people to use coal instead of natural gas. Fracking in the US produces over 60 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. The US has become the world's greatest producer of natural gas. Natural gas supplies 24% of energy used in the United States, and emits far less CO2 gases than coal and oil (i). According to the 2008 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, coal and oil release twice as much CO2 as natural gas into the atmosphere If fracking was banned, there would not be enough energy produced to meet demand, thereby forcing cities to use pollution heavy coal plants for their energy needs. Can't we just use solar power instead? The technology is not yet efficient enough to meet our energy needs. According to Christine Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and former head of the EPA, solar and wind power technology is not yet efficient enough to replace even a fraction of the energy supply currently served by carbon-based sources (ii). We should continue to pursue renewable forms of energy, but we need not turn out the lights on the economy by imposing draconian measures on essential natural gas production.

(i) USA TODAY 2013:

(ii) Wall Street Journal 2013:

B. Jobs

Fracking currently supports over 1.7 million jobs (iii). If you banned fracking you would put all of those people back into the unemployment line. In places like South Dakota, where fracking is most prevalent, the unemployment rate is around 3%, far below the national average of 7% (iv).

(iii) Bloomberg Business 2012:

(iv) South Dakota Dept. of Labor:

C. Energy Economy

Fracked natural gas has become an essential part of the US economy. As the world's leading producer of natural gas the US exports over 1,500,000 million cubic feet of natural gas a year. This brings billions of dollars into the US economy every year (v).

(v) US Energy Information Admin. 2012:

2. Ecological Concerns

Pro is concerned that fracking may harm American fresh water and the quality of our air. We both want our water to be clean and our air to be safe. But banning fracking is not a practical way to do that. There are policies we can put into place that can preserve the tremendous economic benefits of fracking while conserving precious natural resources like clean air and fresh water.

3. CON's COUNTER-PLAN: Enact New Regulations on Fracking

New Regulation I: Only Use Recycled Processed Water Over and Over Again

Both off-shore and on-land fracking require a great deal of processed water in order to release natural gas from the ground. However, neither method requires fresh water. Off-shore fracking uses oceanic salt water, and many on-land producers use processed water over and over again (vi).

(vi) Reuters 2013:

New Regulation II: All Frackers Must Be in Full Compliance with the CLEAN AIR ACT and the CLEAN WATER ACT

During the Bush administration, some of Cheney's associates passed a bill known as the "Haliburton Act" in which several energy companies became exempt from the CLEAN AIR ACT, and CLEAN WATER ACT. This meant that fracking companies were not required to disclose the chemicals used in fracking. All of these companies should comply with EPA requests and disclose all ingredients used in fracking. This way every ingredient can be studied, and companies will be encouraged to develop the safest fracking recipe possible.

New Regulation III: Enclose Each Fracking Site Within Enclosed Facilities to Capture All Fumes and Chemicals from Escaping into the Environment

Every natural gas site should be fully enclosed in order to contain any chemicals or fumes that might escape into the local environment. This will keep everyone safer, and serve as a way to capture an additional source of fuel.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is emitted in the oil and gas sector, at coal mines, landfills and manure management facilities. These emissions represent an often profitable solution to global climate change: methane can be recovered and used to produce electricity and heat. However, while there are hundreds of methane mitigation projects successfully operating around the world, much more can be done, if the right policies are in place.


New Regulation IV: All Fracking Sites May Only Target Natural Gas Shales that are a Safe Distance Away from Sources of Fresh Drinking Water

This one speaks for itself.


A. Interpretation: Even though the resolution wants to ban off-shore fracking, PRO only discussed on-shore fracking. You ought to vote CON since PRO has only provided evidence about the amount of fresh water used via on-land fracking. However, off-shore fracking uses salt-water so it's not applicable to PRO's only attack on fracking. However, if we want to interpret the intent of the resolution to be about all forms of fracking, then you still should vote CON because I explained how processed water can be recycled by frackers rather than use more fresh water.

B. Counter-Plan/New Regulations: Con has provided an alternative course of action that solves for all of Pro's ecological concerns while preserving the huge economic benefits of fracking. Therefore, you must vote CON.

Debate Round No. 2


I stand corrected, although I did provide information behind the reason for fracking to be banned onshore (consider it an extension, showing problems which arise from onshore fracking also), there are still unjustifiable environmental implications which arise from offshore hydraulic fracturing. The environmental implications are as follows:
  • On offshore sites, leakage of pipes could go on for long periods of time without detection and be widely dispersed by tides and currents. The Sockeye oil field is nearby to Channel Island Marine Protected Areas and a spill or long-term leak could do major injury to the ecosystem. The South Ellwood oil field is close to the coast and could contaminate the Santa Barbara beaches for some time without detection. The area near the Ellwood fields is known for having large natural fractures in the ocean floor. Any fracking fluids injected into wells offshore could travel through natural fractures already in the rocks into the ocean waters. -

  • Approximately half the oil platforms in federal waters in the Santa Barbara Channel discharge all or a portion of their wastewater directly to the ocean, according to a California Coastal Commission document. This produced wastewater contains all of the chemicals injected originally into the fracked wells, with the addition of toxins gathered from the subsurface environment. -
  • Oil saturated the Santa Barbara Channel and washed ashore before the well at Platform A was capped - yet even after the well was capped, oil continued to seep up steadily through fractures in the ocean floor for several years. In the end, over three million gallons of water were released, fouling 35 miles of coastline, killing as many as 15,000 seabirds and poisoning dolphins, seals and sea lions. Santa Barbara's tourist-dependent local economy, business and property owners, and the local fishing industry all suffered extensive ECONOMIC loss in the wake of the spill. -;

This information provides the environmental implications caused by offshore hydraulic fracturing. Regardless of a short-term economic gain, a tremendous long-term environmental loss will be the resultant of continous offshore hydraulic fracturing. It is of moral obligation that our environment is protected by banning such practises. What is the real necessity of a strong economy when the environment, something for our future generations to relish, is at an undeniable risk? The ends do not justify the means. Native Americans once occupied the lands with decent lives in harmony with local environment without having paramount dependancy on "jobs" within the energy sector - why must we be different?

It must also be mentioned that, in the last source aforementioned, local economic loss was extensive in the areas local to the spill which was at cause of offshore hydraulic fracturing. No matter what the case, it is inevitable that mistakes are to be made, regulation or not. CON has asserted their argument in economic gains of hydraulic fracturing, however both the economy and environment proves to both be affected in multiple ways as consequence of inexorable error with fracking. Therefore, CON's justification of fracking through economic gains is innacurate.



EVIDENCE ANALYSIS: Pro Cites a Wiki and an Activist Website...

Round 3-Paragraph 2 & 3:

In rd. 3 paragraph 2- 3, PRO’s only “evidence” to support all of his assertions is a wiki known as beachapedia. A wiki in which any anonymous blogger can post her/his opinion is NOT a reliable source. Prefer CON’s more reliable evidence from professional sources like the Bloomberg Business report, Reuters, and the International Energy Agency.

Rd.3-Paragraph 4: Environmental Defense Center

In rd. 3 paragraph 4, PRO’s can only cite an activist website. This is problematic. Its political ideology will always be one-sided, and have a preconceived conclusion before researching the issue. According to a study on environmentalist organizations, they would often spread misinformation intentionally because they believed that no one would take action unless the public believed the situation was more dire than it really was (3-i). Prefer a balanced approach that accepts the complexity of the topic at hand. Prefer CON’s professional sources like Reuters, which strives for balance and objectivity.

(3-i) PROF. SOBER, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, 1986 (Princeton University Press)

Rd. 3 paragraph 5-6: ZERO EVIDENCE

In paragraph 5-6, PRO makes a series of claims that are utterly unsupported, such as fracking causing an “economic loss” in particular regions. Yet he provides ZERO evidence to support this. Clearly, you should prefer evidence-backed arguments over unsupported claims.

Evidence Analysis Voting Issues: I have demonstrated that CON has cited the most reliable sources. PRO either cites evidence that is not applicable to the topic at hand (as I demonstrated in round-2), or websites with zero credibility (as I have demonstrated above in this response). Since Pro’s only make baseless claims, you should disregard them due to their lack of evidence. Given that PRO’s baseless claims must be disregarded, due to their lack of credible evidence, all of CON’s arguments stand unchallenged; thus you must vote CON.

But just in case I haven’t fully persuaded you, dear reader, I will refute all of PRO’s arguments one by one.


A. Once an industry is regulated, accidents often decrease to a negligible probability of less than 1% . According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, new regulations of the trucking industry led to far less accidents and quote, “an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver health” (3-ii).

(3-ii) US Dept. of Transportation 2004:,

B. There are zero significant accidents once industries are properly regulated. Offshore drilling for natural gas off the coasts of the UK, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, and other countries that drill in the North Sea have higher regulations and virtually no accidents. According to a study conducted by the United Kingdom’s North Sea Authorities Forum, in which hundreds of offshore drill sites in the north sea were audited for best practices, most drill sites followed the current regulations to avoid penalties and steep fines (3-iii).

(3-iii) North Sea Authorities Forum, UK 2013:

C. A study by the EPA found that once regulations are enacted the chance of a leak is less than 0.001% for most industries (3-iv).

(3-iv) EPA, 2006:

Pro asserted that leaks will happen whether or not there are regulations. My evidence demonstrates that regulations, like the ones espoused in CON’s counter-plan, do work and will reduce the risk of accidents to a negligible probability. We will be paralyzed if we ban any action that has a small (less than 1%) risk associated with it. You have a higher chance of being killed in a car accident then there being a offshore fracking leak. Should you refuse to get into a car ever again because of a tiny risk of an accident? You could, but the definite harms of a car-free lifestyle for most people outweigh the possible benefits. Likewise, if we ban all offshore fracking then thousands of shale-gas employees will definitely lose their jobs, energy prices will definitely rise, and the US economy will definitely be weaker.The environment might be better off, but the environment would have probably been fine either way. Prefer a world in which we have a realistic understanding of risk so we can act to make the world better rather than be paralyzed by fear.


Detecting Problem Areas to Prevent Leaks

1. New regulation - mandate the best leak proof equipment

2. New regulation - mandate frequent random checks via submerged vehicles or by underwater cameras and scanners.


3. New regulation - BAN all ocean dumping and demand that all frackers follow regulations spelled out in my round 2 response, especially fracking with recycled processed water.


4. New Regulation: Provide companies BIG incentives to follow all the regulations by spelling out consequences of multi-billion dollar fines and criminal charges.

By implementing my counter-plan I eliminate any plausible risk of leaks, and thereby eliminate any harms to local coastal economies that a leak might cause. CON’s counter-plan preserves the enormous economic benefits of offshore fracking, and prevents any environmental harm. Following pro’s plan would cost the US millions of jobs and not make the environment any safer. Thus, you must VOTE CON.



These new regulations will create demand for new services thereby creating jobs (3-v).

(3-v) Bloomberg Business, 2012:




C. PRO CONCEDED THAT OFFSHORE & ON-LAND FRACKING SUPPORTS OVER 1.7 MILLION JOBS: Extend all of my arguments on the economic benefits of fracking. Pro did not challenge any of them. Pro’s only comment was how leaks could hurt local coastal economies but he did not provide any evidence for this claim and the counter-plan would prevent any such leaks from occurring.


This argument was made in round-2 and dropped by Pro. If fracking offshore/onshore is banned, then there will be greater environmental damage because it will increase the use of coal.


A. Pro’s contention that we can erase our dependence for fuel by living like the Native Americans is pure fantasy. Present-day Native Americans do not even live like this-most of them live modern lives. We should create smart policies that actually respond to they way people will behave in the real world, not the way we want them to behave in an idealized society.

B. Living like Native Americans in a pre-industrialized society would be “nasty brutish and short.”



The Origins of Native Americans, Crawford, 1998:

Debating Roman Demography, Scheidel, 2001:


Economic health, and the benefits of a good job from a natural gas producer are not “short-term” as my opponent suggests. These economic benefits have long term impacts in building a real middle class for the foreseeable future (ix)(x).



(x) Princeton U. Future of Children Study, 2010:

Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Hierocles 2 years ago
For anyone interested in reading the unedited version of my round-3 response:
Posted by Hierocles 2 years ago
On the Native American lifestyle issue, I found this documentary interesting. I cited a link to this in the debate round, this is just for everyone's personal enrichment:
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Tophatdoc 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:15 
Reasons for voting decision: Con wins the debate because Pro failed to meet his Burden of proof. Con even had an alternative plan to Pro's. This only further made Con's argument more persuasive. I felt that Con adequately addressed Pro's points. But Pro didn't provide a strong argument to back his resolution. The debate goes to Con for this.Conduct goes to Pro because the format Con used in the last round was too large and it really hurt my eyes. Sorry but conduct to Pro for this. Sources go to Con since he showed that Pro was using an activist site and Wikipedia as valid sites. Source to Con. Good luck to you both in future debates.