A High Price to Pay for Low Gas Prices

Everyone is talking about the low gas prices. According to the Washington Post, gas prices are lower than they have been since a major dip in 2008. However, some may have noticed a sudden spike in price this week that may be the beginning of the end of this prime-road trip period. While prices have been an exciting talking point for many new drivers, the reason for this decrease has barely even made its way into the media.

So what has been pulling down gas prices this year, and how long will it last? The short answer is fracking. Fracking is a method of obtaining gas and oil from deep beneath the earth. To do this, 600 different types of chemicals along with huge amounts of pressure are injected into the ground to push the gas upwards. In case it isn’t obvious, fracking is one of the most harmful, dangerous, and widely-practiced forms of pollution.

Fracking isn’t anything novel; according to oilprice.com, today’s style of obtaining gasoline has been practiced in America since the 1940s. However, during these past 70 years of fracking, a multitude of other methods have been invented and discovered. In the Middle East, oil can be accessed by conventional wells because the desired substance isn’t as far down in the ground. Fossil fuels are already extremely harmful for the environment, but the actual production of gasoline doesn’t have to add to this. The chemicals used in fracking are shot so far underground that they can easily seep into groundwater, which runs into a city’s water source. It may be difficult for a Bolton resident to imagine lighting a match next to a running faucet and watching the water catch on fire. However, this is a very real and present issue in areas as close as Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Massachusetts is one of only fourteen states where fracking is either illegal or unfeasible. In other words, it’s nearly impossible to escape fracking (and its potentially poisonous effects) in the United States.

Fracking in the United States (courtesy of insideclimatenews.org)

So why continue? The Middle East can provide a somewhat safer option that does not affect American citizens. As long as the U.S. is using fossil fuels, shouldn’t it at least try to choose a less harmful alternative when producing oil? The problem is money. There isn’t a citizen in America that hasn’t loved the extra spending money they saved from recent low gas prices. When gas is produced right here in America rather than in the Middle East, shipping and handling expenses basically disappear. In addition, the U.S. can even export gas now, adding to oil profits. According to an article from EcoWatch, a recent fracking boom at the beginning of this year caused prices to fall as we imported less and less oil from Saudi Arabia. Once again, America is choosing economy over environment, but we may not have that option for long.

With America’s lack of public transportation and gas-guzzling mentality, the last of the oil in this country will be completely exhausted in fewer than four years. The faster people eat through gas in the coming years, the sooner the prices will skyrocket as we move back to importing from the Middle East. So that may lessen the sweetness of a $25 tank of gas.