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Provides print and electronic resources on the topic of fracking.

About Fracking

Anti-fracking demonstration in Baltimore.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a drilling technique used to extract oil and natural gas that are dispersed within sedimentary rock formations deep beneath the earth’s surface. It typically involves pumping large quantities of high-pressure water mixed with sand and chemicals into the ground to create fractures in the rock and release the fossil fuels trapped inside. Hydraulic fracturing stimulates the flow of oil or natural gas to the surface, where it can be captured, processed, and used as a source of energy. The technique has enabled the oil and gas industry to extract large volumes of fossil fuels from unconventional locations like shale rock, sandstone, or coalbeds, where the oil or natural gas is dispersed in small pockets rather than concentrated in underground reservoirs.

Proponents claim that fracking and other advanced drilling technologies have revolutionized the energy industry and helped the United States become a world leader in petroleum production.  Opponents argue that fracking destroys natural landscapes, contaminates drinking water with hazardous chemicals, contributes to global climate change, and destabilizes underground rock formations to induce earthquakes.

(Opposing Viewpoints)

Narrow the Topic

  • How does fracking affect water quality?
  • What air pollution concerns and consequences arise from fracking?
  • According to the gas and oil industry, what are the reasons to frack?
  • Should tax dollars be used to subsidize fracking?
  • Does fracking cause earthquakes/destablization?
  • Does fracking pose threats to human health?
  • What are the outcomes of lawsuits and settlements regarding wastewater from fracking?
  • Can sand from fracking pose lung disease risk to workers?
  • How has the mantra of "energy independence" been co-opted by public relations firms / pro-fracking groups?
  • How does The Safe Drinking Water Act regulate the underground injection of fluids from shale gas activities?
  • How does The Clean Air Act limit air emissions associated with drilling and production? Are these laws strong enough?