Natural gas represents an important resource within the United States and more efforts are made to create energy sustainability using the resource. Still, the creation of a Schuylkill Energy LLC power plant and gas drilling facility in Mock County is not hereby a recommended course of action.
The arguments in support of this recommendation are drawn from the specialized literature; are all objective and based on scientific facts. The dangers to gas drilling are far too significant for the population and the environment and they are real, even if only visible in the long-term.
Another problem associated with gas processing and drilling is represented by the lack of contingency plans and alternative solutions in case energy situations materialize. In such a setting then, it is recommended to focus on solar and wind energy generation, and to integrate more scientific findings in the processes involving natural gas.
The impact of the energy industry upon the health of both humans as well as the surrounding environment has represented a common concern for the members of the academia. And sufficient evidence has been promoted to reveal the negative impacts of gas drilling and production for the health of humans, animals and the environment.
Theo Colborn, Carol Kwiatkowski, Kim Schultz and Mary Bachran (2011) recognize the importance of gas drilling, as well as the difficulty in ensuring health and environmental responsibility and sustainability in gas drilling processes. Nonetheless, they argue that it is necessary for more controls to be conducted and for more disclosure to be created. The rationale for their recommendation is based on the negative impacts which can be caused by the substances used in the drilling for natural gas. According to the four authors then:
- More than 75 per cent of the substances used to drill for gas could cause skin conditions. The same substances could also impact the eyes and the other sensory organs (years, nose and so on), but could also cause damage to the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.
- An estimated 40 up to 50 per cent of the substances tested by the authors had the potential of affecting the health of the brain, the nervous system, the immune system, the kidneys and the cardiovascular system.
- One quarter of the assessed substances could cause cancer or severe mutations.
Another notable source of information is represented by the work of Madelon L. Finkel, (PhD) and Adam Law, Medical Doctor (2011). The two researchers recognize the potential of natural gas to represent an alternative form of energy, but argue that the technique used in drilling it is in fact dangerous for the population.
The technique to which the two authors refer is represented by horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing of shale (fracking) and this technology is quite new and promoted as safer for the environment. Still, the two authors argue that the substances it uses do create negative implications for the health of the population.
" However, this technique poses a threat to the environment and to the public's health.
There is evidence that many of the chemicals used in fracking can damage the lungs, liver, kidneys, blood, and brain" (Finkel and Law, 2011).
A similar finding is presented by James M. Inhofe and Frank Fannon (2005), who point out the complexity and ambiguity of the method, especially in the context of the legislative hurdles surrounding the drilling techniques.
Another notable source of information is represented by the study of Stephen G. Osborn, Avner Vengosh, Nathaniel R. Warner and Robert B. Jackson (2011). The three authors have conducted a complex study targeted at the specific implications of gas drilling on water. Their findings are irrefutable and they distinctively reveal the threats posed by drilling on water pollution and the subsequent health of the environment and the population.
" Our results show evidence for methane contamination of shallow drinking-water systems in at least three areas of the region and suggest important environmental risks accompanying shale-gas exploration worldwide" (Osborn, Vengosh, Warner and Jackson, 2011).
A final standpoint to be presented belongs to Charles W. Schmidt (2011) and it is based on the recent devastating spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The incident of BP Petroleum has launched adjacent investigations into the technologies and safety precautions used by several drillers. The findings indicated that the safety measures were inadequate and even where the latest technologies were used, the facilities were unable to minimize the negative impact. Additionally, in the specific setting of the spills, the drilling companies appeared as being unable to cope with this threat. In other words, in case of new spills at facilities, the companies were not prepared to deal with the risks and the situation in the Gulf could easily repeat.
The first work presented belongs to Theo Colborn, Carol Kwiatkowski, Kim Schultz and Mary Bachran, all of whom are notable researchers, with vast expertise in their fields. The findings which they forwarded are notable as they are based on strict scientific evidence. The data they promote was collected and processed with the aid of quantitative methods of research and analysis. These methods are characterized by the integration of facts and figures, rather than opinions. The quantitative methods used by the four authors are based on quantifiable values and the findings created are as such supported by real and measurable data. They are objective and reliable.
With most discussions on environmental stability and the role of the energy generating industry in the propagation of environmental damage and stability, the arguments tend to be emotional and subjective. In the case of the assessed works however, emphasis is placed on facts and scientifically proven results, with the elimination of the emotional or subjective factor. The work of Colborn, Kwiatkowski, Schultz and Bachran is well integrated in these parameters. The same is also true for the works of Osborn, Vengosh, Warner and Jackson.
In terms of the work proposed by Finkel and Law (2011), it is noted that their findings are based more so on secondary research, rather than primary research. The study conducted is more confined and not as extensive and detailed as that of Colborn, Kwiatkowski, Schultz and Bachran, who use primary research to create findings. Still, the propositions of Finkel and Law are pertinent in the presented context and guaranteed by the status and expertise of the two researchers, as well as the high quality of the sources used in their study. The same is also applicable to the study of James M. Inhofe and Frank Fannon (2005), but a distinction is made in the different direction taken by the two works. While Finkel and Law focus on drawing alarm signals on the dangers associated with drilling for natural gas, Inhofe and Fannon take a more distanced stand and reveal various features of the changes impacting gas drilling processes, as well as its future.
The situation is more different in the case of the study by Osborn, Vengosh, Warner and Jackson (2011). The four researchers selected a niche subjected and tested their theories. Their findings are supported by precise methods and quantitative tools. At the specific level of the methodology, they used a carefully selected sample and precise tools that preserved correctness and clarity of the analysis and the results. In the very words of the authors:
"A total of 68 drinking-water samples were collected in Pennsylvania and New York from bedrock aquifers (Lockhaven, 8; Catskill, 47; and Genesee, 13) that overlie the Marcellus or Utica shale formations. Wells were purged to remove stagnant water, then monitored for pH, electrical conductance, and temperature until stable values were recorded. Samples were collected "upstream" of any treatment systems, as close to the water well as possible, and preserved in accordance with procedures detailed in SI Methods. Dissolved-gas samples were analyzed at Isotech Laboratories and water chemical and isotope (O, H, B, C, Ra) compositions were measured at Duke University" (Osborn, Vengosh, Warner and Jackson, 2011).
The final study presented was that of Charles W. Schmith, who addressed the problem of drilling in the context of the recent spill and promoted the idea that the companies were not prepared to deal with a potential spill. His findings, much like those of Finkel and Law (2011), were retrieved through secondary research, of primary sources. In other words, the author did not use a strict methodology to derive the findings, but based his conclusions on other researches. The relevance of the findings is however supported by the high quality of the sources used by Schmidt.
At the level of the implications generated by the assessed studies in the context of the new facility to be opened by Schuylkill Energy LLC, these include the following:
- The population could become ill due to various affections caused by the water contaminated with the substances used in the drilling of the natural gas
- Even if Schuylkill Energy LLC were to use the newest technologies, it…