Extracting Minerals Hurts Mother Earth Regardless of the Outcome

By Arleen Richards, Epoch Times
March 11, 2015 6:36 pm Last Updated: March 11, 2015 9:22 pm

The friction among advocates and politicians for or against coal versus fracked natural gas is sometimes like a bad marriage, neither is willing to back down and give up having the last word.

But, the fact of the matter is, in order to extract either of these natural resources, the earth takes quite a beating, which will have long-term negative environmental effects.

Here is a comparison of the extraction methods used for coal and natural gas. 

 Coal Mining:

Ukrainian coal miners wait for a bus after exiting the underground of the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk, Ukraine, on March 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Ukrainian coal miners wait for a bus after exiting the underground of the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk, Ukraine, on March 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

 

  1. Startup Cost: Depending on size and type of mine, $400 million or more.
    Strip mining:
  2. Scrape away earth and rocks to get to coal buried near the surface. Blast apart mountains to get to thin coal seams.
  3. Destruction of landscapes, forests, and wildlife habitats leading to soil erosion and destruction of agricultural land.
  4. Loosened top soil gets washed into streams, and sediments pollute waterways.
  5. An increased risk of ground water being chemically contaminated from minerals in upturned earth seeping into the water table.
  6. Strip mining causes dust and noise pollution.
    Underground mining:
  7. After mine is excavated, support structures are removed and the mine collapses.
  8. Huge amounts of waste earth and rock are brought to the surface becoming toxic when it comes into contact with air and water.
  9. Land above starts to sink causing serious damage to buildings.
  10. The water table is lowered, changing the flow of groundwater and streams.
  11. Might cause earthquakes. 

 

Fracking:

This undated handout frame grab taken from video, provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection shows bubbling due to impaired cementing in an unconventional gas well in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection)
This undated handout frame grab taken from video, provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection shows bubbling due to impaired cementing in an unconventional gas well in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection)

 

  1. Startup Cost: $1.5 million to $2.5 million per well.
  2. It’s found 5000 feet below ground and requires pumping fracking fluids, which contain hazardous chemicals into the ground along with water and sand at high pressures. The resulting mixture is prone to bacterial growth and possibly contaminated heavy metals.
  3. The large amount of water needed can affect water availability for other uses.
  4. Fracking produces millions of gallons of wastewater. Fracking fluids can seep into aquifers if a well casing fails.
  5. Increased traffic, road damage, destruction of native vegetation, and disruption to natural movement of wildlife.
  6. Drilling heightens noise levels, which temporarily disrupts people’s lives.
  7. Deterioration of air quality with rise of diesel fumes.
  8. Potentially destroys communities’ access to clean water.
  9. Might cause earthquakes.

Sources: internationalbanker.comnews.archcoal.com, theepochtimes.comedf-er.combloomberg.com, news.nationalgeographic.com, and greenpeace.org