In simplistic terms, Hydraulic Fracturing, commonly called fracking, involves drilling a hole thousands of feet into the earth to reach shale formations where natural gas is trapped. Water, sand and a proprietary mix of chemicals are then injected into the shale, fractruring the rock and releasing natural gas, which is captured when it flows up and out of the hole. This process allows access to previously inaccessible natural gas reserves. There are several "hot spots" for Fracking. The Marcellus shale formation is found underground in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia. Other areas with an abundance of natural gas bearing shale are the Fort Worth area, North Louisiana, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
The gas production industry states that fracking has been conducted for more than 60 years on more than a million wells without any major environmental or health issues. They tout this process as a step in reducing our dependence on foreign energy supplies and creating much needed jobs.
On the other hand, some public health and community leaders are calling for a moratorium on fracking until scientists determine the environmental and health risks, especially as it relates to drinking water resources. There will be much debate on this subject in the coming years, and at present, the verdict is still out.