Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a process used to exploit oil and gas formations previously deemed either too difficult to reach or too unproductive owing to greatly diminished output. The process involves pumping engineered fluids containing chemical and natural additives into a well at high pressure to hold open fractures in the oil or natural gas formation.
As the use of fracking has increased, so, too, have concerns about its safety and environmental impact. Concerns surrounding fracking include the chemical composition of fracking fluids, water resource quality and quantity, destruction of habitat, and even seismic activity. Information about and regulation of fracking is highly dynamic. Often a study that promotes the safety of fracking will immediately be contradicted by another study proclaiming its risks.