The controversy over hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - continues to heat up in Lubbock, after three local locations were leased to a drilling company.
The process of fracking is used to extract oil or natural gas deep below the Earth's surface. Blasts of water, chemicals and sands are pumped into the ground and used to fracture shale, which then releases natural gas or oil. Because it takes place thousands of feet below the ground, many believe it poses a threat to the environment.
Dr. Mohamed Soliman, a Professor of Petroleum at Texas Tech University, says the concerns over hydraulic fracturing are unfounded.
"Hydraulic fracturing is not a new thing. It has been around since the late 1940s," Soliman said.
Soliman says the production of oil and natural gas is essential to everyday life, and he believes hydraulic fracturing is one of the best ways to get it.
"We need it to run our cars, heat our houses. So, it is necessary," Soliman said.
However, anti-fracking advocate Armando Gonzales says the process is dangerous to the environment.
"The fracking companies use Taurine, benzene, and so many other chemicals that are toxic and known carcinogens," Gonzales said.
However, Dr. Soliman says that is not the case. He says companies that conduct the fracking do not use dangerous chemicals. Instead, he says they opt for organic chemicals made from plants.
Another concern Gonzales has is water. He believes fracking contaminates the water and air, posing a danger for residents who live nearby.
"Other communities and towns where fracturing has occurred, they've left behind poisoned water, contaminated air and physical ailments that have not been there before," Gonzales said.
However, Dr. Soliman says water contamination is not an issue, because oil or natural gas never make it to underground water on their own.
"This fluid has been sitting there for several million years and it has not come up to the surface. Why would it come to the surface right now? It doesn't make sense," Soliman said.
Soliman says the benefits of hydraulic fracturing far outweigh any dangers that some believe it to pose. However, as with anything, he says caution should be exercised. He says it's up to the company conducting the fracking, to do so safely.
"People have to do their homework and do it right. If it is done right, there is no danger," Soliman said.
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