Hydraulic Fracturing, or Fracking, has been a hot topic lately. This controversial method of extracting oil and gas from deep within the shale involves methods that many people dont agree with. The science is still unclear about the long-term effects of fracking; it may be harmless or it may be devastating.
But the consequences of fracking reach far beyond just destruction of the environment. There are many social and economic consequences to be aware of as well.
Increased Truck Traffic
Areas like the Williston Basin in North Dakota used to be quiet farming and ranching communities. There was not only little truck traffic, but very little vehicle traffic. That all changed when the fracking technology was developed. Now some areas that used to see about 1,400 vehicles per day see around 14,000 vehicles per day. That is 10 times as many vehicles with very few improvements to the infrastructure.
That vehicle increase contains a large number of fracking trucks. These huge trucks are not designed to travel on these small back highways, and there has been a large increase in the number of fracking truck accidents as a result.
The oil boom has brought in a lot of people from around the country. The vast majority of those working in the oil fields are young men in their 20s. These young men tend to make rash decisions that dont ultimately bode well for the community.
That crime is nothing to be taken lightly. The huge surge in drug use (including meth manufacturing) has led to some serious repercussions. For instance, two young men, while high on cocaine, decided it would be a good idea to kidnap a 40 year old school teacher. They grabbed her while she was out jogging, killed her, and dumped her body miles away. During their trial they had no reason for doing what they did, just that it seemed like a good idea while high.
Not all impacts are bad though. For instance, the economic boom that comes with the oil increase is great for the economy. There are thousands of people able to work very high paying jobs. These individuals then spend their money (often frivolously) and help to boost the local economies.
But there are silver linings to every cloud. The downside is that rent in the areas has tripled in the past few years. Area businesses cannot keep employees because those who live there can make so much more money working in the fields. Because of this fast food businesses have to offer $15-$20 per hour just to maintain workers. This results in a big increase in prices to offset the employee costs.
Areas subject to fracking, like the Bakken in North Dakota and various areas through Texas, have been a huge boost to the US economy. However, they have also caused a lot of problems. It is still to be seen what the environmental impacts will be, but the social and economic impacts are very apparent.