Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a technique used by oil and gas drilling companies to reach reserves in layered rock. The rock is fractured when the drilling company forces a mixture of water and chemicals into the well at high pressure. Oil or gas will then move through the fractures toward the well.
Fracking has brought good results for the energy industry. Many homeowners in drilling areas are not so happy about the results in local groundwater.
Many lawsuits have been filed alleging that groundwater has been contaminated by chemicals in the fracking fluid.
The EPA is planning to look at where fracking water comes from, how much is used and no longer good for drinking, and also to check where water contamination might come from, whether from aboveground spills, poor well design, or the fracturing process.
The EPA’s report on hydraulic fracturing will be available in 2012.
Image by Tony the Misfit, used with Creative Commons license.