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Future For Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been a controversial issue for some time now, mainly due to the safety and contamination problems that are inherent in the practice.

However, researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered a possible solution: chemical-degrading bacteria which can clean the used water and eliminate contamination.

Centimeter-sized silicon beads will house the bacteria, and when introduced to the polluted water, the porous bead will soak up the water and the bacteria will eat away at the contaminants, effectively cleaning the water.

While this is a way to make fracking safer on the whole, it cannot be ignored that extracting natural gas in this manner is short-sighted and still dangerous to the environment. Cleaning the dirty water does not change the potential for small earthquakes and sinkholes, nor does it change the effect of fracking on the environment. Further, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove all the contaminants from the used water.

As far as the fracking industry is concerned though, this discovery is a jolt of energy. By implementing a solution to one of the primary concerns surrounding fracking, the industry will be able to grow. Also, the natural gas reserves in the United States could provide a large amount of energy for the country, possibly even achieving energy independence, and the extraction process would be cleaner. For any responsible energy policy, safety must be the primary concern, and with this new discovery, fracking could become much safer.

However, natural gas is short-term energy solution and should not be relied upon to be a component of a long-term energy independence program. Once again, U.S. energy policy is stuck between short-term solutions to present concerns and long-term solutions to unknown, future concerns. It appears that fracking is here to stay, so in the short-term, a policy which makes it safer is the best way to go.

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