What is fracking and is it harmful? Key terms, explained

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Oil and gas is required for many of life’s everyday functions. Cars, trains and planes all rely on fuel in order to move people around, leaving many dependent on them. Many also rely on gas and fuel to keep their homes warm during the winter.

Although there are renewable energy sources like solar panels and windmills as well as transportation alternatives like electric vehicles, the economy is still “hooked” on oil.

There are, however, many concerns about the negative environmental impact of the oil industry and its contribution to climate change. To better understand the impact of oil and gas on the environment, and even the health of individuals, it’s important to know where oil and gas come from and what fracking is. 

Just curious?:We’re answering your everyday questions

What is fracking?

Fracking is a method used to extract natural gas and oil from deep within the Earth’s surface, according to National Geographic. During the process of fracking, chemicals, water and sand are injected at a high pressure to open and widen cracks below the surface of the Earth. 

There are many areas in the United States where fracking takes place including in the Marcellus shale formation in the northern Appalachian Basin. This includes areas in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia, according to National Geographic.

What is hydraulic fracking? 

Hydraulic fracturing is what is commonly referred to as fracking. The Barnett shale formation in northern Texas was one of the first places to use hydraulic fracturing technology, according to National Geographic.

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