Read the passages below and write an essay that addresses the following:
What is the position in each passage?
What evidence or reasons are given in support of each position?
Which position is more convincing and why?
Do no additional research on the topics other than using a dictionary. [NEW]
The Controversy: Does fracking contribute to global warming?
Passage 1. Pro: from “Fracking Contributes to Global Warming” by Louis W. Allstadt
The fracking that’s going on right now is the real wake-up call on just what extreme lengths are
required to pull oil or gas out of the ground now that most of the conventional reservoirs have
been exploitedat least those that are easy to access.
First of all you have to look at what is conventional oil and gas. That was pretty much anything
that was produced until around 2000. It’s basically a process of drilling down through a cap rock,
an impervious rock that has trapped oil and gas beneath it. And once you’re into that reservoir
which is really not a void, its porous rockthe natural pressure of the gas will push up the gas
Now what’s happened is that the prospect of finding more of those conventional reservoirs,
particularly on land and in the places that have been heavily explored like the US and Europe
and the Middle East just is very, very small. And the companies have pretty much acknowledged
that. All of them talk about the need to go to either nonconventional shale or tight sand drilling
or to go into deeper and deeper waters or to go into really hostile Arctic regions and possibly
Both the horizontal drilling and fracturing have been around for a long time. The industry will
tell you this over and over againthey’ve been around for 60 years, things like that. That is
correct. What’s different is the volume of fracking fluids and the volume of flowback that occurs
in these wells. It is 50 to 100 times more than what was used in the conventional wells.
The other [difference] is that the rock above the target zone is not necessarily impervious the
way it was in the conventional wells. And to me that last point is at least as big as the volume.
The industry will tell you that the mile or two between the zone that’s being fracked is not going
to let anything come up.
But there are already cases where the methane gas has made it up into the aquifers and
atmosphere. Sometimes through old well bores, sometimes through natural fissures in the rock.
What we don’t know is just how much gas is going to come up over time. It’s a point most people
haven’t gotten. It’s not just what’s happening today. We’re opening up channels for the gas to
creep up to the surface and into the atmosphere. And methane is a much more potent greenhouse
gas in the short termless than 100 yearsthan carbon dioxide.
Allstadt, Louis W. “Fracking Contributes to Global Warming.”
, edited by Dedria Bryfonski,
Greenhaven Press, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints.
Opposing Viewpoints in Context
, Accessed 12
Dec. 2016. Originally published as “Former Mobil VP Warns of Fracking and Climate Change,”
, 19 July 2013.
Passage 2. Con: from “Fracking Does Not Contribute to Global Warming” by Coral
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that hydraulic
fracturingthe controversial technique behind the nation’s recent oil and gas boomdoesn’t appear to
contribute significantly to global warming, as many environmental groups have warned.
It’s great news for oil and gas companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron, which have relied on
breakthroughs in so-called fracking technology to cheaply unlock vast new reserves of domestic oil and
natural gas that had been trapped underground in shale-rock formations.
“It’s very good news,” said Richard Keil, a spokesman for ExxonMobil, of the study. “This is a
groundbreaking survey. It’s the most extensive one that’s been done yet, and it serves to add important
new evidence that hydraulic fracturing does not contribute to climate changeit does not contribute
methane emissions at levels higher than those set by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA].”
The study concluded that the majority of hydraulically fractured natural gas wells have surface
equipment that reduces on-the-ground methane emissions by 99 percent, although it also found
that elsewhere on fracking rigs, some valves do allow methane to escape at levels 30 percent
higher than those set by EPA. Overall, however, the study concludes that total methane
emissions from fracking are about 10 percent lower than levels set by EPA.
The $2.3 million study was conducted by scientists at the University of Texas, with funding
provided by nine energy companies, including ExxonMobil, and one environmental group, the
Environmental Defense Fund. A spokesman for the University of Texas said that while the
companies contributed money to the study, they had no input on the research or results, which
were subject to independent peer review before being published in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious scientific journals.
University of Texas researchers say their yearlong study, which involved measuring methane
emissions from 190 natural gas production sites in the Gulf coast, mid-continent, Rocky
Mountains, and Appalachia, is far more comprehensive than [other studies], which relied on
existing data rather than new fieldwork.
Davenport, Coral. “Fracking Does Not Contribute to Global Warming.”
, edited by Dedria
Bryfonski, Greenhaven Press, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints.
Opposing Viewpoints in Context
Accessed 12 Dec. 2016. Originally published as “New Study Says Fracking Doesn’t Contribute to
, 16 Sept. 2013.
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