Energy and the
ability to obtain energy for use and for profit is universal.  All nations recognize the necessity of energy
and the profit and power that comes from having its resources available for use
and sale.  The ability of remaining a
world leader comes with the ability to provide resources to itself and offer
them to others.   This is where politics and government
regulations intersect with environmentalism and business.   Fracking, or the process of injecting water
and chemicals into shale beds to extract natural gas is one of the most current
debates between the U.S. Government, environmentalists and big business.  Barbour (2017) indicates The United States system
of regulated capitalism, guarantees individual rights of commerce and market,
while protecting the rights of its citizens. 
There are many grey areas in this type of government regulation; however,
it does guarantee certain freedoms.  The
question that many are asking in the fracking debate are whether the rights of
one powerful section of our citizens should outweigh the good of other citizens
who do not possess the same power.  There
are environmental pros and cons of fracking and it seems as though there are as
many pros as there are cons. 

Big business is
pushing to move ahead with the fracking process before all of the research on
the process and environmental outcomes has been completed.  Chapter 1 notes point out that our current Republican
government leaders are highly in favor of trickle-down economics, in which big
business profits and successes trickle down to working citizens through jobs, and
higher profits (DeLorenzo, Politics: Who Gets What and How?)  The EPA completed its final study on
the effects of hydraulic fracking and drinking water and concluded that
drinking water can be affected with fracking under some circumstances.  The EPA also noted that they were unable to
fully assess the impact on drinking water due to lack of data (EPA, 2016). 

Proponents of the
fracking process indicate that increasing reliance on natural gas and decreasing
reliance on coal produces cleaner air by decreasing nitrogen oxide and sulfur
emissions.  The response to that is that
new natural gas facilities are not replacing coal plants throughout the United
States and that air quality around fracking sites have not been studies to
determine air quality benefits, particularly in the ozone area (Wihby, John
(2016).   Because fracking requires a
large amount of water, areas in which fracking is being done will affect water
sources for the citizens living in surrounding communities.  They have concerns about the quality of the
water, but also the sustainability of water. 
As the wells dry up and are abandoned, what is the consequence to the
landscape.  The question remains where
funds will come to maintain and monitor these wells and if enough thought has
been taken to determine long term outcomes. 

The concern that
earthquakes will increase due to fracking operations are currently being
watched and studied.  Max Galka, Adjunct
Professor at UPenn (2016) has studied earthquake data and noted that Oklahoma
has more earthquakes than California, but indicated that while humans may be
responsible for creating Earthquakes, it is not only fracking that has created
them.  And the problem with fracking is
in the disposal of the wastewater, which is what is creating the
earthquakes.  The disposal of wastewater
is an issue with all forms of oil and gas extraction. 

The question at
hand for the government, environmentalists, big business and U.S. citizens is
have all the consequences related to fracking been discovered and investigated,
and is it smart to forge ahead garnering as much profit as possible before
understanding long-term consequences?   If
the government elects to step back and not regulate the fracking industry, is
it only a matter of time that it has no choice but to step in and regulate
anyway to ensure the safety of its citizens in general?   These
are questions that bear discussion, investigation and consideration, in order
to protect the rights of all citizens involved. 
Our forefathers, had no way of knowing what kinds of issues were on the
horizon for the United States, but their concerns were on the rights of all
citizens. 

References:

Barbour, Christine; Wright,
Gerald (2017), Keeping the Republic Power
and Citizenship in American Politics, Sage/CQ Press

Delorenzo, L. (2018), Politics: 
Who Gets What and How?

U.S. EPA. Hydraulic
Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle
on Drinking Water Resources in the United States (Final Report). U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-16/236F, 2016.

Wihbey, John (2016), Pros
and Cons of Fracking:  5 Key Issues, /www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2015/05/pros-and-cons-of-fracking-5-key-issues/

Galka, Max, (2016), Setting
the Record Straight on Fracking and Earthquakes, (http://metrocosm.com/fracking/),