Fracking Adds $2 Billion to Texas Road Repair Costs

Fracking has been a controversial topic since it was introduced as a major way to extract natural gas from the Earth. It has definitely increased how much more the United States produces domestically, but it is not without its faults. As fracking expands we’re beginning to see some of the unintended consequences of the practice, such as an increase in road repair costs as evidenced in Texas.

Texas has been a leader in the petroleum industry for more than 100 years, but both the long and short-term impact of fracking on the residents and environment of the state is currently being studied. The state created a task force specifically to look into the issue and they released their report on Monday. The report, released by the task force created under instruction from the Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science of Texas, contained a mixture of both concerns and benefits that have occurred due to the oil boom in recent years.

Christine Ehlig-Economides, the chairwoman of the task force and a teacher at the University of Houston, stated that the report “is bringing together much or most of the scientific evidence about the actual impacts of shale development.” The public does not yet know or understand many of the aspects of hydraulic fracking. The report was put together by experts in the field including transportation, economics, law, and engineering.

The benefits of fracking and other technology to obtain oil in the Permian Basic shale fields are evident. Texas produces more oil than any other state in the country and has worldwide production levels. The price of gas has been cut nearly in half, created almost 4 million jobs and contributes billions of dollars to local governments, according to the report.

Fracking isn’t all good and no bad though. The activities that occur during fracking have led to an increase in the number and intensity of earthquakes, created concerns about the quality of the air due to additional emissions and frequency of vehicle accidents close to where drilling occurs. The additional traffic and wear and tear on roads not designed for the heavy trucks and machinery has increased the costs of highway repair in the state by $2 billion making it one of the primary immediate downfalls of fracking.

The task force also examined groundwater and determined that contamination had not occurred, which is good news considering that’s a primary concern due to the chance of leaks or spills. Fracking is allowing the country to use more natural gas and less coal to generate electricity and has proven to reduce overall emissions.

Going forward the goal is to keep information transparent and continue to study the effects fracking has as it continues. Air emissions will be studied since not much is currently known about how the process impacts to air quality. This is because health effects aren’t always immediately visible and may not surface for some time after exposure to potential toxins. It’s essential that as fracking expands it continues to remain monitored to make improvements to techniques to keep the environment safe. Texas is abundant in resources and the industry will continue to expand as the need for cleaner energy skyrockets.