On Feb. 1, 2014, California Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly addressed policies regarding fracking, among other things, in a speech at the UCSB Loma Pelona Center. And, after listening to Donnelly speak, it is hard to not be pro-fracking.

Fracking, also referred to as hydraulic fracturing, is a specific process used to extract natural gas. Although environmentally controversial in its usage, the benefits that fracking presents are sensational. Things like energy independence, economic benefits and a decline in greenhouse gas emissions are just some of the perks.

Donnelly explained these economic issues in a way that gave the audience an idea of the great opportunities our golden state is missing out on. Employing a greater usage of fracking is so important for us because it would not only increase the employment rate, boost the economy and allow states to be less reliant on the Middle East for oil, but it would actually reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere by replacing coal with cleaner-burning gas. Like I said, after listening to Donnelly speak, it is hard to not be pro-fracking.

Of course, there are always going to be individuals who disapprove of fracking. Critics latch onto the idea that fracking can contaminate our water supply, cause earthquakes and even cause global warming. However, as Donnelly said, “The problem is what you are dealing with are myths when it comes to fracking. And there are a lot of groups that are propagating and spreading myths.”

These myths often reiterate the dangers of fracking affecting the water table, but Donnelly also explained that the process of fracking in California is actually highly unlikely to contaminate our water, for a number of reasons.

“First you have to start with where the water table is. The water table is about 500 feet below the surface and most of the fracking that we do right now in California is a mile and a half down,” Donnelly said. “So the only point at which there is any intersection is at the well casing which goes through the water table. And so far, in 60 years of fracking in California, not one single well casing has cracked.”

Are environmental organizations attacking fracking for the wrong reasons?

Many environmentalists attack pro-fracking individuals, yet Assemblymen like Donnelly are, in fact, also focused on the environmental benefits of fracking. With California more reliant on natural gas, Californians can stray away from less efficient alternatives, thus reducing their carbon footprints and improving the environment. Donnelly drove his point home by explaining how there must be a balance between protecting the environment and taking advantage of the enormous economic opportunity that fracking presents to Californians.

Instead of banning fracking altogether or allowing companies to extract natural gas freely, the government should regulate the process of fracking across the nation. With the economic prosperity and other positives that come from fracking, there’s no reason that regulations cannot be implemented so chemicals used are not worrisome to environmentalists. A balance must be found, because the economic benefits of fracking simply cannot be ignored in favor of the environmental benefits.

Many suggest we should not frack up the environment. I say we should not frack up this economic opportunity.

Austin Yack loves to frack.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, February 20, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are primarily submitted by students.