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Environmental Studies Life Sciences Research Paper (Research Paper Sample)

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Environmental Concern of Extracting Natural Gas

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Environmental Concern of Extracting Natural Gas
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Environmental Concern of Extracting Natural Gas
Introduction
Natural gas is a mixture of gases that are rich in hydrocarbons. According to the U.S Energy Information Administration (2018), natural gases are a combination of gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen, among others. These gases are naturally found in the air, but their reserves are deep in the earth. Natural gases are also known as fossil energy, and these gases are often formed underneath the earth’s surface. However, for these natural gases to be used as a source of energy, they are processed and changed into clean energy. In the process of converting these natural gases into a source of energy, many byproducts are created (National Geographic, 2019). Byproducts include propane, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, butane, and many more. These byproducts contribute to air pollution, affecting the quality of the air and environment in general. However, these byproducts are in a lesser percentage compared to oil and coal extraction. For instance, natural gases emit about 50 to 60% less carbon as compared to coal combustion. More so, natural gases emit 20% less heat-trapping gases as compared to gasoline combustion (National Geographic, 2019). It is critical to note that natural gases are one of the cleanest energy. Nonetheless, the dependent and the continued use of natural gases have many environmental concerns that must be taken into account to ensure that the environment is protected.
Literature Review
The natural gas extraction process has been linked to the creation of greenhouse gases. The U.S Energy Information Administration (2018) asserts that during the drilling and the extraction of the natural gases, land, and vegetation are often disturbed. National Geographic (2019) adds that although the percentage of greenhouse gases emitted during the extraction of natural gases is less than in coal burning, the extraction of natural gas can lead to leaks. Union of Concerned Scientist (2016) adds that the production of greenhouse gases does not occur when natural gasses are burned at the plant or at homes. Rather, these harmful gases are produced in the drilling process and in pipeline transportation. Natural gases often disappear into the atmosphere quickly and cannot always lead to an explosion or burning. Nevertheless, leaks that might appear in the natural gas drilling may rapture due to the high pressure and can be hazardous to the environment. The process of drilling natural gas wells entails digging and drilling, and these results in air and noise pollution for the people and animals in the surrounding environments. Osborn (2011) adds that the extraction of natural gas has also been associated with water contamination, making water in surrounding areas toxic for human and animal consumption or agricultural use. Thus, the mining process of natural gas results in the emission of greenhouse gases that are harmful to the environment.
In the USA, there are many cases where the extraction of natural gases has resulted in water contamination by methane byproducts. Scientists argue that in the extraction of natural gases, often, water and gases flow and are discharged into shallow water aquifers leading to clean water contamination with toxic-radioactive waste products (Osborn, 2011). When the pullulated water comes into contact with the environment, it affects vegetation. In some extreme cases, it can render the ground useless for agriculture or inhabitation (Alawattegama & Bain, 2015). The U.S Energy Information Administration (2018) adds that during the extraction of natural gases, such as Shale gas, large volumes of water are needed, and this means more water is consumed in the long run. Water contamination in natural gas extraction has also result from transportation spills, drilling site discharge, leaks in fractured rocks, wastewater disposal, and well leaks, among others (Rozell & Reaven, (2012). The effects of drilling and hydraulic fracturing can pose a high environmental risk or water pollution in the extraction of natural gases, and this is a severe problem facing communities living near natural gas exploration areas.

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