In recent years, fracking, has gained a reputation in the media as one of the most divisive environmental issues to date. Short for hydraulic fracturing, the process involves the use of highly pressured chemicals and water to release oil and gas trapped underground.
Opponents criticize the use of water to extract gas from the earth, claiming the practice is detrimental to the environment, linking it to a recent string of earthquakes in the California region, but also claim the practice uses excessive amounts of water to produce the natural gas. In the midst of widespread drought in regions popular for fracking, opponents of the process have found a new momentum. While studies are still being conducted, on the environmental effects of fracking, the Western State Petroleum Association reports that water usage for fracking is comparatively modest-
“According to 568 well reports filed with the FracFocus public website, the average amount of water used for hydraulic fracturing in California in 2012 was 116,535 gallons per well. That’s less than half the amount of water needed to irrigate a golf course for a single day.” (Western State Petroleum Association, 2012)
In comparison, the WSPA reports 312,000 gallons needed to water a golf course for one day, and 146,000 gallons used on average by a four person family in one year.
While the environmental disputes surrounding fracking remain, concerns for the choices consumers are faced with as a result of legislative decisions come to the forefront. California consumers are now faced with making tough choices regarding an efficient way of harvesting oil during highly energy dependent times and water usage during times of decreased availability.