Hydraulic fracturing, the process of injecting fluids into bedrock in order to release oil and natural gas that is deemed to be difficult to extract by conventional drilling methods, is a controversial practice to many environmentalists, mainly because of unknown long-term consequences, especially potential contamination of groundwater.
Marlon Kobacker, an expert in renewable energy currently serving with Clean Energy Corporation Australia, maintains that understanding the environmental impact of Hydraulic fracturing will be critical in determining if the benefits outweigh the risks from a multi-generational perspective.
Kobacker also considers it a high priority to determine if “fracking” has geological impacts for tectonic plates in the Earth’s crust, citing strong evidence that recent low-magnitude earthquakes in the U.S. and Great Britain could be directly correlated to the process.
The primary benefit to the practice, according to Kobacker, has been a reduction in the price of natural gas, a clean fossil fuel that greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions that represent a primary contributor to global climate change.
The drawback, however, is that readily available low-cost fossil fuel removes the incentive to advance the further development of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric that have a much lower carbon footprint.