Fracking well
Fracking is short for ‘hydraulic fracturing,’ a term used to describe the process of pumping millions of gallons of pressurized water, sand and chemicals down a newly drilled well to blast out the surrounding shale rock and gas.
It’s a relatively new technique that‘s made shale gas more popular in recent years. For a long time, shale gas — a natural gas that’s embedded in ancient rocks known as shale — was deemed as being not worth the trouble by drilling companies because it was so difficult to recover. The gas is embedded in rocks and the best way to get it out is to drill in sideways, which only became possible in the 1980s and 1990s as the gas industry improved its directional drilling technology. Later, technological advances that let drillers use more water pressure made fracking into an economically viable option for obtaining shale gas from the rocks.

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Shale is scattered throughout the United States. The two hottest shale sites in America right now are the Barnett Shale in Texas and the Marcellus shale, which is buried beneath seven states and part of Lake Erie. Other large shale deposits are located in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming.
Despite its potential, though, a movement has welled up lately to block the shale gas boom. Some critics say embracing natural gas so heartily will slow the rise of renewable energy, but the biggest beef with shale isn't as much about its gas — it's about how we get it out of the ground. Shale gas would likely still be a novelty fuel without modern advances in hydraulic fracturing, yet the need for fracking is also starting to seem like it could be shale's fatal flaw. The practice has sparked major environmental and public heath concerns near U.S. gas fields, from diesel fuel and unidentified chemicals in groundwater to methane seeping out of sink faucets and even blowing up houses.
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