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Arsenic. Cadmium. Chromium. Radon. Lead. These are just a few of the toxins used in hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, a controversial drilling process to retrieve oil and natural gas from shale deposits under the surface of the Earth.
Concerns about the process have been mounting, as studies have linked it to a host of environmental and public health problems, from increased infant mortality and low birth weight babies to the release of cancer-causing radioactive gas, contamination of drinking water and earthquakes. Fracking also releases methane, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
According to a 2015 report by the nonprofit FracTracker Alliance, there are at least 1.7 million fracked wells across the U.S., with the most in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, each with more than 200,000 wells. (Prior to 2009, Oklahomans experienced an average of two earthquakes a year; these days, there are two every day).
Yet proponents of fracking argue that it has contributed to the nation's economic health. A 2015 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the drilling boom fueled by fracking technology added around 725,000 jobs between 2005 and 2012.
The issue has become a political hot-button issue. While Republicans are generally all for it, fracking has polarized Democrats, with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing a bill to ban it in the Empire State, while presidential contender Hillary Clinton gives it her tentative support, with some added regulations.
While supporters have described fracking as a bridge to renewables (since it burns cleaner than coal, though the methane released by the process may in fact make fracking worse than coal), fracktivists say it's a costly and dangerous distraction from what the nation should be doing on the energy front: moving toward a low-carbon future based on renewables.
"Natural gas is no 'bridge,' no transition to renewables," wrote Josh Fox, activist and filmmaker known for his Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary, Gasland. "It’s a whole new fossil fuel regime that would have dire consequences ... for the climate."
Indeed, there are significant pros and cons, making fracking a highly controversial issue. The infographic below, created by 911Metallurgist.com, dissects the details of fracking.
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Editor's note: The coronavirus that started in Wuhan has sickened more than 4,000 people and killed at least 100 in China as of Jan. 27, 2020. Thailand and Hong Kong each have reported eight confirmed cases, and five people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the illness. People are hoping for a vaccine to slow the spread of the disease.
By Nancy Schimelpfening
- Nutrition experts say healthy eating is about making good choices most of the time.
- Treats like cookies can be eaten in moderation.
- Information like total calories, saturated fat, and added sugars can be used to compare which foods are relatively healthier.
- However, it's also important to savor and enjoy what you're eating so you don't feel deprived.
Yes, we know. Cookies aren't considered a "healthy" food by any stretch of the imagination.
When you see an actor in handcuffs, they're usually filming a movie. But when Jane Fonda, Ted Danson, Sally Field, and other celebrities were arrested in Washington, D.C., last fall, the only cameras rolling were from the news media.
As the Pacific Ocean becomes more acidic, Dungeness crabs, which live in coastal areas, are seeing their shells eaten away, according to a new study commissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).