Hydrofrackingis a term that refers to a technique within the framework of which water, in addition to chemicals, is forced through a well by the application of high pressure. Eliza Griswold reports that hydrofracking may cause massive environmental destruction and adverse impact on human health. The technology not only affects water sources and land use, but results in pollution that may pose “health risks to the people with the side effects of chest complications and development of cancer amongst the locals.” Griswold (3) reports that the once fresh and serene environment of Pennsylvania has changed drastically recently due to noise pollution, large volumes of gas emissions, water contamination, and increased health complications for the locals. The toxic chemicals released into the air, such as proppants, changed the environment and natural atmosphere of Amwell Township with the side effect of various health complications among the local inhabitants.
Many residents and animals, including Haney’s dog, succumbed to toxic air pollutants during the incident that “Range Resources acknowledged to have resulted due to toxic chemicals” (Griswold 4). Despite a great amount of money that the locals got under the lease agreements and due to availability of jobs, natural resources, such as water, reduced to the bare minimum with many locals forced to seek for water from water firms. Due to spillage of chemicals, such as methane, water in Pennsylvania never regained its natural cleanness and pure taste. Many locals in and around Monongahela River complained of stomach and chest complications. Additionally, Monongahela River has never again met the required standards as a healthy water source. Despite OSHA’s authentication for the use of protective devices, the side effect of the chemicals left many of the locals in dire need of medical attention. Griswold (6) reports that “Harley developed high levels of arsenic”, despite the fact that the company supplies the locals with clean drinking water.
Hydrofracking“decreases natural capital” (Common et al. 32). Considering the situation in Pennsylvania, the practice nearly brought food production, disease control, recreational benefits, and crop support to a halt. Despite registering high economic returns regarding an increased flow of money and easy access to other government services, hydrofracking reduced fishing in the local rivers, exerted negative influence upon the immunity of the locals, and left many of the residents with developing health complications. With old and degraded water sources, such as the natural fauna and Fiona (for example, the McAdams Road that reeled under raw sewage), most of the natural resources and capital were unable to get reproduced as before, which is a phenomenon that brought the production of agricultural items to a standstill. From the reading, Griswold (16) reports “a reduced dependency on natural resources with many locals resorting to other economic activities to make ends meet such as jobs at the local motels and Hydrofracking Companies.”
Yes, marginal ecosystem service values are likely to be important in the Pennsylvania hydrofracking situation. Pennsylvania profoundly needs an evaluation on its ecosystem services. The assessment is necessary as it would help provide a way of justifying and setting priorities, actions, programs, and policies aimed at protecting and restoring the ecosystem and services in the region. For example, evaluating the quality and amount of water available in Monongahela River would help gauge its economic value regarding some of the economic activities like fishing, which were previously carried out in its waters. On the other hand, doing an evaluation of some of the animals would provide an overview of the level and effect of hydrofracking in the region. The evaluation would additionally offer an insight into some of the effects that degrade the environment. The evaluation would, therefore, come in handy to help steer Pennsylvania in the right direction ecologically in addition to offering an insight into the value of the ecosystem and natural resources. According to Guarrey (4), such a move would also help “the State government to outline taxation measures against the company.”
Making the dollar estimate value of the ecosystem of Pennsylvania is a critical and useful thin to do, as it will help providing an assessed value of the natural resources and ecosystem as a whole before and after ahydrofracking technique starts to be employed. By carrying out this evaluation, the government and the interested participants on environmental issues can provide a clear-cut roadmap, policies, and programs necessary to bring back and recapture the natural environment and services (Daily 12). Undertaking the exercise can provide an opportunity to bring back what has been lost, in addition to laying down measures to prevent any form of future ecosystem degradation and a possibility of putting the lives of neighboring communities at risk. However, considering the many economic benefits of hydrofracking, such as the lease of land at a fee, improvement of the infrastructure, and expansion of industries, the evaluation may posit a negative aspect of the project with many locals and development projects abandoned. Weighing the assessment and making a comparison may prevent government agencies like OSHA from granting permission to companies that strive to carry out such a project. For example, development of socioeconomic activities within Amwell Township saw considerable infrastructural growth and industrial expansion courtesy of Range Resources’ entry into the region. Without Range Resources’ entry, much of the region could have “maintained its low economic activity of fish, dogs, and beef cattle” (Griswold 4).
Considering the potential environmental and health impacts of released chemicals from the extraction and carbon emissions, the Energy Policy Act comes in handy in addressing the essential services and ecosystem resources in Pennsylvania. This would help in laying down strategic measures to counter any negative side effect such as “air pollution and contamination of water bodies” (Costanza 12). Additionally, through the Act, Pennsylvania residents could have had the opportunity to learn about the risks of staying close to the fracturing region in addition to understanding any health complication arising from the contact with chemicals.
On the other hand, an economic policy would help provide an evaluation of the costs involved in gas extraction and some of the logistics in acquiring land and compensating locals displaced from selected sites for the hydrofracturing. The policy would further help the locals understand the actual costs of compensation and any future financial details that may come up. The economic policy would address aspects like compensation to the locals of Pennsylvania and provide an ecosystem evaluation. It will also help in laying down future economic plans of the state government in addition to state agencies like OSHA.
As to integrating economic systems, services, and natural capital into a management and policy, this policy will aim at harmonizing economic growth prospects with nature to focus and put the region on an ecological civilization roadmap. Considering the massive environmental damage hydrofracturing has done in Pennsylvania, such a policy would help address natural degradation in rivers, flooding, and pollution of natural waters. On the other hand, the policy can provide sustainability measures and objectives focusing on conservation, and socioeconomic benefits for the locals.
Common, Michael S., and Sigrid Stagl. “The Environment,” Chapter 2 in Ecological Economics: An Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Costanza, Robert. An Introduction to Ecological Economics. Boca Raton, FL: St. Lucie Press, 1997.
Daily, Gretchen C. et al..Ecosystem Services: Benefits Supplied to Human Societies by Natural Ecosystems. Washington, D.C., Ecological Society of America, 1997.
Guerry, Anne D., et al. “Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services Informing Decisions: From Promise to Practice.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 112, no. 24, 2015, pp. 7348–7355. doi:10.1073/pnas.1503751112.
Griswold,Eliza. “The Fracturing of Pennsylvania.”New York Times, 17 Nov. 2011.
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