Fracking FAQ: The Science and Technology Behind the Natural Gas Boom (Grist)

The basic steps of hydraulic fracturing. (Image credit: U.S. EPA)

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves cracking rock formations by pumping fluid into wells at high pressure, forcing oil or gas out of the rock. (Image credit: U.S. EPA)

“Fracking”: It sounds more like a comic-book exclamation (kapow! boom! frack!) than a controversial method for extracting natural gas and oil from rock deep underground. By turns demonized as a catastrophic environmental threat and glorified as a therapy for our foreign oil addiction, fracking has become a flashpoint in our national energy policy.

[…] Scientists assure us that fracking can be done safely — at least in theory. They are still working to understand the long-term implications of using this technology at large scale in the real world, however, where things spill, accidents happen, and people have their health, homes, schools, airports, groundwater, and even cemeteries to worry about.

We know scientists aren’t the only ones looking for answers. So below, we tackle six key questions about fracking.


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