Fracking or hydraulic fracturing

What is it and what’s wrong with it?

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a drilling method to obtain 'natural gas'.

According to the EPA, hydraulic fracturing is “a well stimulation process used to maximize the extraction of underground resources; including oil, natural gas, geothermal energy, and even water. The oil and gas industry uses hydraulic fracturing to enhance subsurface fracture systems to allow oil or natural gas to move more freely from the rock pores to production wells that bring the oil or gas to the surface.”

 In 2011, the EPA initiated a comprehensive study on the environmental and health risks associated with fracking. Periodic press releases detailing the findings of the "EPA Study of Hydraulic Fracturing and Its Potential Impacts on Drinking Water Resources" have revealed that fracking does indeed lead to groundwater contamination. The reality is stark: fracking is believed to cause earthquakes, groundwater contamination, adds to greenhouse gas pollution through releases of methane, releases uranium and radon radiation, and leads to serious air pollution from the emissions spewing from drilling and transportation equipment. The negative health effects that result from fracking are vast, and include respiratory problems like asthma, as well as infertility and cancer.

Gas companies argue that fracking will add thousands of jobs to impoverished communities, and that utilizing gas will reduce the need for the use of "dirtier" sources of energy, namely, oil and coal. Other fracking advocates in the U.S. argue that the industry will reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil. 

What’s being done?

 Josh Fox’s documentary Gasland (2010) first brought attention to the dangerous effects of fracking and Fox now has a loyal following. Fox continues his investigation of the corrupt oil and gas industry, illustrating the deleterious effects of fracking in his follow-up film, Gasland Part II (2013).

As a result of these films and many actions by Fox, Sandra Steingraber, Mark Ruffalo, and numerous environmental groups such as Food and Water Watch, Grassroots Environmental Education, New Yorkers Against Fracking, and hundreds of other groups and thousands of individuals, New York State fracking activism, in particular, has become one of the most successful environmental movements today. After years fighting fracking, New York State "fracktivists" won a major victory in December 2014, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially banned fracking in New York State. 

What can you do?

Visit Food and Water Watch’s Fracking Action Center to search the status of fracking in your home state and discover what you can do to get involved!

Learn More Here:


“The Climate Movement Takes on Fracking: Interview with Bill McKibben” by Christine Shearer, Truthout (2012)

“The Whole Fracking Enchilada” by Sandra Steingraber, Orion (2010)


Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting with Disaster by Walter M. Brasch (2013)

Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future by Richard Heinberg (2013)

The End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone by Seamus McGraw (2012)

Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale by Tom Wilbur (2012)


Dear Governor Cuomo: New Yorkers Against Fracking in One Voice (2012)

Gasland (2010)

Gasland Part II (2013)

Video Clips 

Sandra Steingraber’s “Fracking: Part I: Hydraulic Fracturing 101” (2011)

Sandra Steingraber’s “Fracking: Part II: Air Quality” (2011)

Sandra Steingraber’s “Fracking: Part III: Water Quality” (2011)

Josh Fox video on fracking and the Delaware River Basin (2011)

Josh Fox "The Sky is Pink” (2012)

My Water's on Fire Tonight! (2011)