By LaVetta Cain

West Virginia Writer, Solar Sales Representative your paragraph here.

Effect of Fossil Fuels on the Environment & Health


          Now that we know a fair amount of how mining for solid fossil fuels effects the environment and even the everyday person, let’s take a look at how mining for gas and liquid fossil fuels effects the environment and the everyday person.
First, let’s look at how drilling specifically impact the world. Drilling for oil has been around for a number of years now. The first time the act of drilling into the earth’s surface as a means to extract oil was successful was August 27th 1859, and was done by a man named Edwin L. Drake. It took him over a year and a large amount of investor’s money before he was finally able to extract oil from the ground through drilling. Before this, most of the oil being bought and sold was from whaling. Drake did not profit much from his discovery in the years to come, as he did not patent his new method of drilling and his money ended up running dry once the oil deposit did.
          Fast forward over a hundred years, the world’s population is still drilling for oil, though those that are doing so are profiting quite a bit more than their predecessor. This profiting, however, is not shared amongst all those involved, unfortunately.
          Drilling causes many unfortunate things to happen to the local environment and animals in the local ecosystems. Just the fencing off of the large area needed for drilling can cause devastating and long lasting effects on the local ecosystems. It can affect wildlife’s migration routes and the noise pollution can affect song birds during their mating and nesting seasons. Increased roads and traffic cause animals that become used to the change more likely to end up dead in a ditch on the side of the road. These might not seem to be of much consequence to many people, but these changes can end up threatening the very survival of these animal’s entire species. Migration patterns exist for a reason, animals develop these patterns as a way to survive, if they’re cut off and the animals are left without any alternatives, these animals will surely die off. If the song birds that are native to that area are unable to communicate during the mating season, their birth rates will drop considerably and they too could die off.
          Right now, there are attempts to open up the Alaskan tundra in an effort to begin drilling there. This will devastate the local wildlife there, exposing them to dangerous chemicals and possible oil spills. In order to drill on land, lubrication is needed for the drill bit. It’s injected into the wellbore and is supposed to be caught by lined pits for later disposal. Unfortunately, many times these lined pits will have spills, resulting in the “mud”, as it’s called, spilling around the well pad. There are different types of this mud, but all release dangerous chemicals.
          Offshore oil spills effect marine life through direct contact. The oil is harmful to the animal’s internal organs and can cause diseases such as cancer. It also affects their immune and reproductive systems. Their ecosystems can end up changing for the long term, causing long term changes to their habits and migration patterns.
          Of course, this is how the rigs affect life when they have a spill, how does it affect the environment and life even when there is no spill? Well, is turns out that even when there is no spill and everything is going as planned, there is still pollution happening in the form of wastewater produced by the rig. This wastewater can end up polluting and contaminating drinking water.
          One of the recently more well-known ways of onshore drilling is Fracking. In recent years, there have been many people that were worried about the effects that Fracking could have on their drinking water. They were worried that being so close to a Fracking site could cause health issues. It turns out, they were right to be worried. Studies have suggested that ground water can be contaminated by hydraulic fracturing, or Fracking. This was quite a find, considering one of the more popular types of mining in the U.S. is Fracking. Unfortunately, proving that contamination has taken place due to Fracking is apparently very hard. For instance, Fracking uses methanol along with a number of other chemicals. Methanol degrades quickly and can be reduced to very trace amounts by the time the water is tested. These trace amounts are very difficult to test for in a typical lab. In one case in Wyoming, it took years to prove that contamination was happening. Once it was proven, they Fracking company decided to then state that the chemicals that were found to be contaminating the wells and water of the average citizen were in fact not considered dangerous. Unfortunately, that remains to be seen as many of the chemicals found were not registered for safety levels allowed in drinking water.
          Onshore drilling has real dangers, to both the environment and to the average person living close by. Offshore drilling presents real dangers to marine life and oceanic ecosystems.