Instigator / Con

Resolved: The United States federal government should ban hydraulic fracturing.


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics

After 1 vote and with 1 point ahead, the winner is...

Publication date
Last updated date
Number of rounds
Time for argument
One week
Max argument characters
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Winner selection
Voting system
Contender / Pro

-- INTRO --
Pro will advocate that the USFG should either implement a specific policy around fracking (must be anti fracking or meant to deal with a negative effect of fracking, so Pro cannot just say the USFG should subsidize fracking. Pro must be against fracking, or a negative effect(s) produced by fracking in the status quo.), or that the USFG should outright ban fracking. Con will argue against this.

-- TOPIC --
Resolved: The United States federal government should ban hydraulic fracturing, or implement a specific plan to mitigate or end the harmful effects of fracking.

1. Constructives (Rebuttals not allowed)
2. Rebuttals
3. Rebuttals
4. Summary (No new points)

-- Rules --
1. Forfeit merits a loss.
2. Citations must be provided. If citations are continuously not provided in any form, this merits a loss.
3. Structure must be followed. An extreme violation merits a loss.
4. Everything else is fair game and if necessary can be debated through theory in round.

Round 1

Con BoP
Because the resolution talks about banning fracking, as con I simply need to prove that fracking should not be entirely banned within the US. The BoP is not on me to prove that fracking is beneficial in its current state, just that the USFG should not ban fracking

Pro BoP
The BoP on Pro is very simple. He must simply prove that the USFG should ban fracking. If Pro can prove that fracking should be entirely banned across the US then he wins this debate, and if Pro can not do this then Pro will lose this debate.


Empirically, the US and the EPA do not have a good track record of enforcing environmental regulations. In regards to environmental issues, a report from EHN finds: “Even where federal regulations do exist, meaningful enforcement has been lacking.” [1]

Furthermore, EPA resources are limited, and implementing new plans like this can substantially hinder the EPAs ability to solve for issues.[2] To implement this plan it would be necessary to hire new workforce in order to shut down fracking sites, and the EPA would face many lawsuits. This will not only harm the EPAs ability to enforce fracking bans, but also other programs. The same goes for other agencies that might have a role in enforcing the ban such as BLM as well . 

Economy and generational poverty DA

Many people's jobs are dependent upon the fracking industry. 
Fracking is essential to the economy of the US, and it has added over 725,000 jobs.[3] In a country with under 160M workers this means that fracking accounts for about 0.5% of all jobs in the country. But that is just direct jobs, in total fracking “supports 9.8 million jobs or 5.6 percent of total U.S. employment.”[4]

Unemployment leads to generational poverty 
This is a major factor to consider before banning fracking because job loss causes mass poverty. [5] This poverty carries over to future generations because the effects of poverty can cause physiological problems that affect decision making skills necessary to lift oneself out of poverty, poor schools have a harder time of preparing students for life beyond highschool, many students face abuse at home that can hinder their development and education, but abuse can also occur at school “leaving  a  student  in  a  no-win situation;” and in the end students from poor families in impoverished communities “suffer  from the same things that affect their parents.”[6

By banning fracking, we kill an industry that 9.8 million people depend on for jobs, and risk sending their families, and future generations of those employed now into a vicious cycle of generational poverty. 

Alternative energy DA

Shifting away from fracking creates a coal revival 
Forcing the shift away from fracking before renewables are ready will revive coal which is worse. [7]  Coal emits far more S02, N0x, and C02.[8]  Of course everybody is aware of the effects that carbon dioxide has on the atmosphere, and climate change. This in and of itself would be a devastating effect of the coal revival, but specifically increased sulfur dioxide emissions would have a devastating effect on the environment and people. 

Asthma and death caused by S02
Within recent history, one of the main sources of sulfur pollution was marine vessels, and this source alone accounted for hundreds of thousands of deaths, and millions of asthma cases in children . “Low-sulphur limits for marine fuels reduces ship air pollution and attributable health impacts substantially. Prior to cleaner ship fuels, ship-related health impacts include ~400,000 premature deaths from lung cancer and cardiovascular disease and ~ 14 million childhood asthma cases annually. ”[9]

Acid rain
S02 is the cause of acid rain.[10] The effects of acid rain are devastating, especially in terms of aquatic ecosystems. With lower PH levels caused by acid rain fish eggs cannot hatch, and adult fish die. Furthermore, the effects of acid rain on land are also devastating. Acid rain destroys soil and kills trees.[11

Food insecurity
The immediate effect of acid rain would be causing food insecurity because it is impossible to grow crops when the soil has been destroyed. Furthermore, the biodiversity loss caused by S02 would also cause food insecurity on a massive scale, and biodiversity loss is a leading cause of food insecurity.[12]
This food insecurity is a major problem, and really the ultimate impact. “We have a strong obligation to aid the starving even if we would eventually become malnourished. On this view, to survive on lifeboat earth, knowing that others were tossed overboard into the sea of starvation, would signify an indignity and callousness worse than extinction. It would be morally preferable to die struggling to create a decent life for all than to continue to live at the expense of the starving.”[13]

Fracking can solve for all of this
Fracking enables the shift to renewables. This is because renewables can not be implemented within the next decade. But an energy source is still needed in the intermittency. Fracking is a good source of energy because of its relatively low emissions. [14] Furthermore fracking does not emit S02, and because of this it doesn’t cause asthma or lung cancer. Acid rain also is not a problem meaning that ocean biodiversity is preserved, and the soil is not affected by acid rain either; and thus the impact of food insecurity does not occur if we do not ban fracking. 

Security DA

Banning fracking enables Russian expansionism 
Current US liquid natural gas (LNG) exports assures US energy leadership, but banning fracking would upend this. [15] This is a major problem because LNG exports are the main tool that the US currently has to influence Russia. [16] Banning fracking not only prevents the US from engaging with Russia, but also the EU. This is because the EU is dependent on Russia and the US for LNG imports [17], so a decrease in US exports allows for Russian energy blackmail of the EU.[18] This energy diversity currently present within Europe is the only thing preventing Russian invasion of the Baltic states.[19] Furthermore, an invasion of the Baltic states is Putin’s dream. [20]

Consequences of a Baltics invasion
Upon invasion of the Baltics there are two possibilities. 1. Nothing happens. Or 2. NATO retaliates with military action. This first possibility is probably the most likely scenario, but that is not necessarily a good thing. Many human rights issues exist  in Russia including torture, imprisonment of political candidates, targeted campaigns against NGOs, oppression of freedom of speech, persecution of religious groups, persecution of human rights defenders, persecution of  environmental activists, persecution based on race, and persecution based on sexual and gender identity.[21] So, upon invasion of the Baltic states these human rights violations are spread to millions of people, and this is exactly the reason we need to stop Russian expansionism, but in practice this may be even worse.

Alternate scenario risks nuclear war
An invasion of the Baltics could draw NATO in because of the mutual defense agreement present within the Washington Treaty, and “there is a possibility that if Russian forces are sufficiently degraded or defeated in Kaliningrad that Moscow may resort to or threaten nuclear first use.” “Such a war will almost certainly escalate into a full-up nuclear war between the planet’s only two nuclear superpowers—which means everyone loses.” [22] Nuclear models prove that situations like this lead to complete planetary extinction.[23]

The EU is dependent on Russian and US LNG imports, and LNG is a key tool that Biden has to influence Russia. Banning fracking kills these exports meaning the EU is opened up to energy blackmail, and the US loses leverage with Russia. This leverage that the US has along with EU energy diversity is the only thing preventing Putin from invading the Baltic states — something which he wants to do very much. If this invasion happens either NATO does not retaliate and millions are left to deal with vast human rights abuses, or NATO engages in a war with Russia over the issue risking nuclear war and extinction. Either way we are left with a no win situation if the Baltics are invaded, and we see that deterrence is key. 

Halliburton loophole CP

There are actions that can be taken that do not ban fracking, and do not risk the listed disadvantages, but still solve for potential issues. 

CP: The USFG pass legislation reforming section 1421(d) of the SDWA, ending the Halliburton Loophole and removing the exemption for fracking from the SDWA.

The Halliburton loophole is a provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act which exempts fracking from EPA regulation. This means that fracking companies do not have to disclose, or comply with EPA limits on harmful chemicals or dangerous practices. [24] Research shows that some of the chemicals used in the fracking process are harmful in certain quantities, but research is limited and more needs to be done to obtain conclusive results for many chemicals. [25] Because fracking companies are not required to disclose their hydraulic fracturing fluid solutions there are serious gaps in the research. Through amending the SDWA, it will force fracking companies to disclose their hydraulic fracturing fluid solution, and force them to comply with EPA safety standards. The EPA will also conduct research of their own. [26] This data is important for risk mitigation [27], and risk mitigation is key to prevent fracking accidents. [28]

By taking less drastic action, it is possible to mitigate potential risks while preserving jobs, preventing pollution from coal and the impacts that come along with that such as food insecurity, biodiversity loss, and food insecurity; and without risking the US’ position in regards to national security and Russia.


To win this debate, all I need to do is prove that the USFG should not ban fracking. My first point is on solvency, the EPA and USFG is empirically ineffective with environmental regulations, and there is no guarantee that the fracking ban can be enforced. Attempting to do so may strain the EPA budget, and make the EPA even more ineffective. If the plan can not solve the issue then there is no reason to pass the plan, so you should vote for Con on this basis. 

If the plan does succeed there will be severe impacts. 9.8 million people rely on the fracking industry for jobs, and this will launch many families into a devastating cycle of generational poverty. Forcing the shift away from fracking before renewables can replace it will revive coal, and this is far worse. Coal releases S02 which causes 400,000 deaths due to lung cancer, and millions of childhood asthma cases. Additionally it causes acid rain which destroys aquatic biodiversity, and soil leading to food insecurity which is the ultimate moral impact. Fracking is also the main leverage the US has against Russia, and without this leverage Russia will invade the Baltics, and either human rights abuses will be spread to millions, or a war will ensue between Russia and NATO with the possibility of escalating to an extinction level nuclear war. 

There is no reason to risk any of this because we can implement less radical plans that focus on risk mitigation, and can solve for spills, and change the chemical composition of possibly toxic hydraulic fracturing fluid.  When we have this simple alternative, there is absolutely no justifiable reason to ban fracking. 

What is fracking better than?

Fracking was sold to the American people (primarily by Obama actually) as this saviour alternative to coal-reliance. The problem is that while it's slightly 'better' than coal in terms of pollution (though a huge portion of its pollution is still unknown) it is actually the second-worst. Coal had two issues for Americans, it was both very harmful to the environment in the emissions emitted while producing electricity from it and the cost of dealing with coal was simply higher, also it was more expensive but the reasons why are actually somewhat of an issue for fracking in its ethics.

What fracking corporations do is they con/dupe some farmers into giving up their land at a cheap rate (for the corporation but seemingly generous rate to the farmers) and ruin the land with their natural oil/gas methodology for a while and once it's all used up, they seek out another and repeat the process.

“For sustainable agriculture, fracking is a disaster,” says Jaffe. The gas rush started in the South and West, but has spread to the East and now affects 34 states. Under much of West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York lies a 400-million-year-old geographic formation called the Marcellus Shale. Although estimates vary, the shale may hold 50 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, enough to meet New York state’s needs for 50 years. To see what fracking can do to food production, Jaffe has only to look at what has happened to some of his colleagues in nearby Pennsylvania, where the first fracked well came into production in 2005, and where there are now more than 1,500.

Last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture quarantined 28 cattle belonging to Don and Carol Johnson, who farm about 175 miles southwest of Jaffe. The animals had come into wastewater that leaked from a nearby well that showed concentrations of chlorine, barium, magnesium, potassium, and radioactive strontium. In Louisiana, 16 cows that drank fluid from a fracked well began bellowing, foaming and bleeding at the mouth, then dropped dead. Homeowners near fracked sites complain about a host of frightening consequences, from poisoned wells to sickened pets to debilitating illnesses.

The Marcellus Shale itself contains ethane, propane, butane, arsenic, cobalt, lead, chromium — toxins all. Uranium, radium, and radon make the shale so radioactive that companies sometimes drop Geiger counters into wells to determine whether they have reached the gas-rich deposits. But those compounds are almost benign compared to the fracking fluids that drillers inject into the wells. At least 596 chemicals are used in fracking, but the companies are not required by law to divulge the ingredients, which are considered trade secrets. According to a report prepared for the Ground Water Protection Council, a national association of state agencies charged with protecting the water supply, a typical recipe [PDF] might include hydrochloric acid (which can damage respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines), glutaraldehyde (normally used to sterilize medical equipment and linked to asthma, breathing difficulties, respiratory irritation, and skin rashes), N,N-dimethyl formamide (a solvent that can cause birth defects and cancer), ethylene glycol (a lethal toxin), and benzene (a potent carcinogen). Some of these chemicals stay in the ground. Others are vented into the air. Many enter the water table or leach into ponds, streams, and rivers.

For the most part, state and federal governments have turned a blind eye to the problems brought about by fracking. The Environmental Protection Agency claims that it has no jurisdiction to investigate matters related to food production, a contention disputed by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), who wrote a report urging the EPA to study all issues associated with fracking. A concerned farmer who prefers not to be identified forwarded me an email written to him by Jim Riviere, the director of the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank, a group of animal science professors that tracks incidents of chemical contamination in livestock. Riviere wrote that his group receives up to 10 requests per day from veterinarians dealing with exposures to contaminants, including the byproducts of fracking. Nonetheless, the United States Department of Agriculture has slashed funding to his group. “We are told by the newly reorganized USDA that chemical contamination is not their priority,” Riviere wrote.

“The dangers of fracking to the food supply are not something that’s been investigated very much,” said Emily Wurgh of Food and Water Watch, an environmental group based in Washington, D.C. “We have been trying to get members of Congress to request studies into effects of fracking on agriculture, but we haven’t gotten much traction.”

Fracking harms the animals, the soil and everything surrounding it. Again, the only thing as unsustainable as it (as well as harmful to the environment) is coal. It has a major flaw; once the shale oil in an area is used up, it's over and done with. They will just use up your farmland or whever you have given up to the corporation, harm it permanently so that both plant and wildlife suffer if they want to in any way survive and thrive around the soil where it was (it even affects the water) and basically never can be used again for anything. This is a severe issue, not some kind of 'get over it'. The idea that this was a good alternative to coal is like saying that a good alternative to poisoned cake is cake that will give you diarrhea instead of killing you, instead of cake that is delicious, harmless and very sustainable and healthy for us.

Full-scale commercial production of shale gas is not expected in the UK for at least the next couple of years, so the scientists also considered future scenarios, including one in which shale gas was a key component in electricity production and one in which it was not.

The results of this analysis suggested that the future scenario in which shale gas comprised 1 per cent of electricity production was more sustainable than the one in which it comprised 8 per cent.

In a report released in 2016, the Committee on Climate Change found exploitation of shale gas on a significant scale would only be compatible with UK carbon budgets if certain tests were satisfied.

These tests included limiting the greenhouse gas emissions produced during fracking development, as well as ensuring shale gas displaced existing imports as opposed to increasing overall gas consumption.

“Existing uncertainties over the nature of the exploitable shale gas resource and the potential size of a UK industry make it impossible to know how difficult it will be to meet the tests,” committee member Professor Jim Skea said upon the report’s release.

When considering overall sustainability, Professor Azapagic and her collaborators found that considerable changes would be required to make fracking as sustainable as wind and solar power – notably a 329-fold reduction in environmental impacts.

Opponents of fracking said this research provides further evidence that renewable energy is a better investment than shale gas extraction.

“The case for fracking is simply falling apart,” said Emma Gibson, senior campaigner at Greenpeace UK.

“The Government’s own figures show that the amount of electricity generated by burning gas is expected to halve by 2025, and by then renewables will have overtaken gas as Britain’s main power source.

“The UK doesn’t need fracking in its energy future and can’t afford it either if Britain wants to honour its climate commitments. If Theresa May wants to keep her promise of a healthier environment for the next generation, she should ditch fracking and go all-out for solar and wind power instead.”

It harms everything, from farm animals to human babies, anything living and within its vicinity runs risk of poisoning and its disgusting, downright sinister effects.

Babies born less than two miles from a fracking site are at risk of health problems that could hamper them later in life, new research has found.
Mothers who lived within 1km (0.6 miles) of a fracking site saw a 25 per cent increase in the likelihood that their child would be born at low birth weight, be born prematurely or have other congenital issues, the study found.

Being born at low birth weight (less than 5.5lbs) has been linked to a number of future health risks, including higher risks of asthma and ADHD, as well as poorer education attainment and future professional success.

Researchers from Princeton University studied birth data for 1.1million children born in Pennsylvania between 2004 and 2013 and mapped their mother’s address against fracking sites.

Living within a kilometre of a well site had biggest impact on lowering average birth weights, cases of low birth weight, and a decreases in babies’ overall health score, they found.

The overall health score gives a measure of babies' prematurity, any birth defects, or health issues at birth.

However, there were impacts visible up to 3km (1.8 miles) away, although these were about one third to half the size.

“Overall, the results suggest that the introduction of fracking reduces health among infants born to mothers living within 3 km of a well site during pregnancy," the paper, published in the Science Advances journal states.

“We find the largest effects for mothers living within 1 km of a site — a 25 per cent increase in the probability of a low – birth weight birth (<2500 g) and significant declines in average birth weight, as well as in an index of infant health.”

“Low birth weight is a risk factor for numerous negative outcomes, including infant mortality, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, asthma, lower test scores, lower schooling attainment, lower earnings, and higher rates of social welfare program participation,” it adds.
These negative impacts could be as a result of the heavy industrial traffic and air pollution which comes from living near a fracking site.

There are also cases where polluted water used in fracking has contaminated water supplies.

Fracking is a major source of energy in America and there are nearly 130,000 registered well sites across the United States.

Its expansion in the US has led to a cheap energy boom and prompted the Conservatives to push for a UK "fracking revolution" in their 2017 manifesto.

This is despite data showing that it can lead to water supplies being contaminated with radioactive material,and geologists warning the UK’s shale gas reserves have been “overhyped”.

Fears over its environmental and health impacts have led to protests at sites prospecting for shale gas across England.

"Given the growing evidence that pollution affects babies in utero, it should not be surprising that fracking, which is a heavy industrial activity, has negative effects on infants,” said one of the report's authors, Henry Putnam, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton.

There is a clear impact on health, though “thankfully” it appears to be localised.

The authors say this latest study should be looked at by policy makers deciding whether to permit more fracking sites, it should also be cause for more research to identify the exact cause of the health impact.

“While we know pollution from hydraulic fracturing impacts our health, we do not yet know where that pollution is coming from -- from the air or water, from chemicals onsite, or an increase in traffic,” said co-author Katherine Meckel, assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The fact is that the true devastating scale of damage and impact is not known, one thing that seems to be better is that in terms of raw emissions that affect the o-zone, coal is worse but that's about the only guaranteed thing that fracking is better than. 


Other highly developed nations are moving towards either outright banning or severely regulating fracking, the US is not uniquely dependent on fracking to last.

There is a delusion amongst many fracking proponents (Obama included) that the US needs fracking to thrive. The idea is that if it firstly could reduce its dependence on any external source of energy and electricity and start to be self-reliant, it then both benefits from the production and can run it cheaper in the US. The issue is that not only was this done at an ill-judged time (since the world was already moving away from coal towards renewable energy, which fracking is not) but it could outright harm the US's standing with many of its allies.

The world is shifting towards a greener future and this includes international agreements. 

EU,in particular:

Many other nations will need to conform over time, even for their own good:

If the US is to flaunt itself as a country entitled to do things like the Iraq War, Afghanistan War, Syrian drone strikes so on and so forth, while also claiming to be in the right as opposed to an invading force, it needs to set an example to the world across the board. It cannot be a 'subpar' nation in quite a few respects and just say 'oh but we are entitled to do this, we are buddies with other developed nations that care about the environment, human rights issues and other things'.

The US is able to maintain its status as an authority figure internationally because it isn't only powerful, it's also respected (well, was until Trump came into office). It has actual respect from nations that don't just fear US, they like it and want it to be a continuing example of how to run a nation. It can't keep up this dichotomy of having people unable to get healthcare because they're too poor, left to the wayside and than say it's any better than India, where everyone can attend a hospital and it's a 'treat first ask for payment later' scheme if it's private. The biggest reason why the US is held to such a high regard is that unlike a fair amout of nations of its scale and power, it has continued to be concerned with matters that keep it as some kind of beacon of hope and morality for the world. If it keeps this fracking going, it cannot possibly begin to point the finger and tell other nations to begin to care about renewable energy when it is relying its own energy on the most unsustainable source on par with Coal. The only reason it's more sustainable than Coal on paper is that there happens to be more shale oil that hasn't yet been extracted (I think 'exploited' would be a more apt term) at the sake of all wildlife, including human babies, that are to survive in the surrounding areas.

The biggest issue is that we don't even know the full scale of harm it causes as there seems to be a huge wall in terms of corporations preventing thorough investigations into the impacts. This lack of information is what they continually flaunt as lack of proof that it's genuinely harmful. They sign contracts with farmers regularly that have clauses banning the farmer from letting investigations into the specific chemicals and land occur afterwards. Despite this, some are allowed to speak in interviews and tell the harm it's done to them.


Here is a The Young Turks podcast exploring it:

Please listen to this speech:

You need to understand what happens. The corporations show up to the farmers, dupe them into deals that never explain the full extent of harms. It can be linked to cancer, harmed babies, harmed animals, polluted water, destroyed/contaminated soil and all sorts of other issues that every single time a lawsuit shows up, the corporations uses clasues in the contract and dodging questions to gaslight the people as 'aw that's not so bad you can't prove it's due to fracking'.

What I ask Con is this, what reason is the US encouraging and relying on fracking? It's not just harmful, shale oil is a fad. There isn't so much shale oil out there to exploit that this can last for decades, what will happen is that eventually all the 'good land' will get abused and used up and then suddenly it will hit home all at once, the harms of engaging in it.

This myth that countries can't ban it or heavily regulate it and thrive is a lie (the description allows heavy regulation instead of outright banning).

Are you suggesting that New York is struggling financially? Don't kid yourself.

France, Germany and Scotland have banned it, these are developed places we are talking about, not struggling in any sense of economics or industry.

In 2012, the State of Vermont banned fracking with law 152, passed by the State Legislature. With this law, it was also prohibited to collect, store, or treat fracking wastewater within the State (law 152, 2012). In 2017, the governor of the State of Maryland banned fracking with law 1325.

In 2019, the State of Oregon Legislative Assembly banned fracking with law 2623, which, in Article 4, stipulates that this prohibition is necessary “for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety.” In 2019, the State of Washington banned fracking with Act 5145. The same year, the Governor of the State of Florida Office issued Executive Order 19-12 for water protection and ordered the Department of Environmental Protection to take the necessary measures to strongly oppose fracking in Florida.
In Canada, the Province of New Brunswick banned fracking with Regulation 2015-28 (Legal Information Institute of Canada, 2015). The Province of Quebec prohibited Fracking, but only when applied to shale gas (CBC, 2018).

Is Con really saying all these places are not coping or productive for the US?

The reality is that the US doesn't need fracking, it's just an excuse for an exploitative and harmful process that should be absent from a nation held in as high regard internationally as the US. It is a beacon of hope to many, a land of freedom and productivity that cares, it cares about the environment, cares about foreigners that suffer, cares about things that perhaps it shouldn't superficially need to but it does.

That is a self-proclaimed core value of US integrity; to care about the suffering of others. It gained this because in its foundation and earlier years, it was one of the cruellest nations to 'others' of a certain race within it, let alone how its natives were treated by the original invaders. The US cannot possibly claim this and then not care what harm it would do others if they took after it an embraced fracking. It is up to the US to set the right example and some states within it have already done so regarding fracking and are by no means whatsoever struggling economically.
Round 2
The lost jobs all have transferrable skills.

The US is not a fracking-dependant economy whatsoever.

Those two points actually rebuke Con's R1.
Round 3
I am conceeding this round because some IRL stuff came up and I don't have time to write adequate arguments currently. 
Round 4
Wow okay I am so lucky about that.

This debate easily went either way.