Fossil fuels, fracking, and jobs

Written by Robyn Wright ‘13

Illustration: Oil

This week in Election 2012, the concept of debate was oil and energy.

Surprisingly, the strive for renewable resources is less emphasized this year than in the 2008 election. This is because better technology has made fossil fuels more accessible in the last four years, and has been shown to increase U.S. employment and GDP.

Unfortunately, job creation seems to be taking priority over the environment. The Keystone XL pipeline would help our economy in the short run by creating jobs, but overall poses a pollution risk for U.S. soil and really only benefits Canada in the long run.

Additionally, new technology for collecting fossil fuels — called “fracking” — poses a great risk to the pipeline. Fracking is a process that fractures the rock layer in order to obtain natural gas or oil, but recent studies have already shown a 5-fold increase in earthquakes in regions using this technology.

Because the Keystone XL pipeline’s proposed route crosses through this territory, there is the worry that we are setting up a pollution disaster.

Illustration: Renewable energy from windmills

Fracking proves beneficial in the fact it reduces gas prices by allowing us to rely less on foreign oil, but is keeping a domestic supply worth the environmental impact? Personally, I would prefer paying more for gas and electric bills if it meant our nation succeeded in relying only on renewable resources.

If we can be at the forefront of this industry, we would be prepared in the decades to come, as well as global leaders in this technology. Unfortunately, in this election, the environment is on the backburner while compromises will be made in favor of the economy.

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