…atmosphere from the oceans. The theory suggests that the methane gas trapped rays
from the sun, significantly heating up the earth’s crust, followed by a massive cooling
period, when 90% of all life on earth could not sustain. The process theoretically
occurred through a loop process. The earth warmed, causing large amounts of methane
to be released from the oceans creating anoxia (lack of oxygen).
Event (E)- Drilling and Producing natural gas in an urban setting
Athenosphere (A) Lithosphere (L)
Hydrosphere (H) Biosphere (B)
(Event) to Sphere Interaction:
E >A/Event to Atmosphere:
Natural gas burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels such as coal or oil, but
still releases harmful gases into the atmosphere.
Using natural gas releases less of the green house gas emissions (such as
sulfur, carbon, and nitrogen).
Natural gas contributes less to global warming than coal or oil.
Less pollution is released into the atmosphere by using natural gas.
Natural gas fumes in the environment cause a haze in the visible sky and
weather patterns could be altered.
Pipelines are filled with odorless gas that can leak into the environment
E>L/Event to Lithosphere:
The addition of sand and water may lead to different compositions of soil.
Economic concerns because of declining property values and loss of
E>H/Event to Hydrosphere:
Wastewater runoff from drilling is toxic and contaminates all water supplies.
E>B/Event to Biosphere:
Natural gas is highly combustible causing explosions, drilling accidents, and
fires resulting in loss of life.
Wildlife habitats may be disrupted from the natural gas pipelines in the
Communities may be destroyed because of the influx of natural gas wells.
Sphere to Sphere Interaction (Biosphere>Lithosphere)
The lithosphere will be impacted as land will have to be torn up (destroyed) by
drilling for the natural gas sources (Barnett Shale).
A great amount of vegetation will be destroyed due to this drilling, casing an
increase risk of erosion occurring in the areas being drilled in.
Local animal species may change due to the lack of fresh water and destruction
of their habitats.
Causal Chain A>H>B:
Carbon, sulfur and soot will be released into the atmosphere by producing and
using natural gas. Also the equipment used to drill for natural gas release
harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Increased chemicals released into the
air will harm plant life (not to mention destruction of land and plant lifer from
drilling on the land) which will cause the land to erode, destroying land and
water sources such as streams, rivers, and lakes.
Causal Chain E >L>H>B
Drilling for natural gas can lead to the build up of pressure that can cause the
fracturing of the limestone rock and if not protected by casing can let water
and mud into the rocks. If there is enough pressure behind it can result in a
mud volcano. The mud volcano can affect the surrounding waters causing
them to become dirty, undrinkable for humans and some livestock or wildlife,
and uninhabitable or life threatening for some species of marine organisms. In
addition, the dirty water from the mud volcano would inhibit the penetration of
sunlight, residential dwellings or businesses would be lost, the death of aquatic
plants, animals, and humans would occur. Species that survived would need to
either search for new areas to live or possible death would occur. People living
near the waters affected by the mud volcano would suffer food shortages and
Drilling for natural gas is more environmentally friendly than drilling for oil. Because
of the directional and horizontal drilling techniques, natural gas wells have a smaller
impact on the environment and land because multiple wells can be drilled off of one
well site. The new drilling techniques are more energy efficient and quieter than
previous techniques used in drilling. Because of these factors, drilling companies are
rushing to buy natural gas mineral rights from land owners in order to implement as
many gas wells as possible. This has boosted the economy of Northern Texas and is
possibly the biggest economic boost to that area in history, but are we sacrificing our
safety and our environment in order to meet this profitable energy demand?
Research Action Plan and Recommendations
The team has agreed to continue researching the Barnett Shale formations and the use
of natural gas in place of fossil fuels in order to make appropriate recommendations to
the Texas legislature. Because of the magnitude and time frame given by the state of
Texas, our research has yielded the following recommendations to be made at this
The ESSEA Explorers recommend that the Barnett Shale exploration and extraction of
natural gas continue because of the need for alternative fuels in the United States. As a
country we are too dependent upon foreign oils and because of the abundance of
natural gas in the Barnett Shale formation, Texas can help our country. The property
value decline suffered by communities because of this will be balanced by the amount
of royalty checks the resident will receive due to the mineral rights presented, an
increase in job availability and economic demands. The mineral rights need to be
restructured in order to meet the needs of the residents; if the mineral is found on a
resident’s property, the resident should have that the right to the royalties from that
Drilling companies should continue to uphold the highest standards of excellence in
order to protect the environment and communities and added regulations on the topics
of noise, public safety, and aesthetics in order to maintain what is left of the integrity
of the land. Drilling companies should be required to maintain an 8 foot security fence
and architectural appealing standards surrounding each drill site. Pipeline companies
should be required to get special permits depending on the type of land the pipeline
will be on. Strict fines should be enforced for violations of the federal and state
environmental, health and safety, and transportation guidelines, laws, and regulations
that are currently in place. Because of the Barnett Shale formations abundance of
natural gas, Texas can make an impact on the rate of global warming our world is
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