Fracking is a method of extracting fossil fuels from shale formations that hold tight oil and natural gas. With the innovations of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing reaching shale reserves has become economically viable.
In 2006, 33% of US petroleum consumption was domestically sourced. By 2014, in the midst of the much-publicized fracking ‘boom’, the share increased to 61%, far below the record 96% set in 1951.
The following map shows the density of wells per county in the US:
More information can be found on dynamic maps by FracTracker.
Research continues to show that the near-term benefit of domestic energy production comes at the cost of potentially irreversible long-term costs to communities and the environment.
- Well water contamination: Methane and contaminants used in the drilling process have caused hundreds of cases of documented well water contamination in Pennsylvania alone
- Destruction of wildlife habitat: Well pad construction, pipeline installation, and frac sand mining have resulted in the destruction of thousands of acres of forest and wildlife habitat
- Earthquakes: Waste water injection wells and the process of hydraulic fracturing itself have been found to trigger earthquakes
- Depleting water supply: Some wells require up to 25 million gallons of water to frack a single well, enough water to fill 38 Olympic-size swimming pools
- Air pollution: Drilling and associated facilities may release or produce various air contaminants such as particulate matter, benzene, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, and ozone.
- Methane leakage: Inadequate infrastructure and lax regulation have led to dangerous amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, escaping into the atmosphere
Sources: Environmental Health Perspectives, NPCA, Environmental Working Group, NOAA, BSSA