What Is Fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing, aka "fracking," is a new method of extracting gas and oil from rocks at a depth of 2,000 to 10,000 feet down into the shale (soft, sedimentary rock formed from consolidated mud or clay) where one finds natural gas.

First, deep wells are drilled straight down through the aquifer (the mixture of soil and water from which life-sustaining water is extracted). This drilling then curves horizontally below the earth's surface and into its shale rock formations. Next, millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals are injected at enormous pressure into these rock formations, breaking apart the rock and freeing trapped methane along with other dangerous materials.