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Fracking: What Is It, and Is It Safe?
Image: PBS NewsHour

Fracking: What Is It, and Is It Safe?

Extracting natural gas from inside the earth is a complicated process. The method known as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, drills deep and injects water, sand, and chemicals at high pressure. The resulting tiny explosions shatter hard shale rocks.

Examine the mechanics of this controversial practice, as well as the debate over safety and environmental impacts.

PBS NewsHour
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‘Fracking’ Explained

‘Fracking’ Explained

Despite the promise of this method to obtain natural gas, methane has contaminated water in some wells. Watch what a biology professor and geochemist has uncovered in North Carolina. More...

Video
Duke University
Viewpoints: Fracking’s Risks and Benefits

Viewpoints: Fracking’s Risks and Benefits

Even after lifting a moratorium on fracking in the United Kingdom, the debate rolls on over risks and benefits. Try to reach your own conclusions by reading varying expert viewpoints. More...

Article
BBC
‘Fracking’ for Natural Gas Continues to Raise Health Concerns

‘Fracking’ for Natural Gas Continues to Raise Health Concerns

Fracking has fallen under sharp scrutiny for its potential threat to health and safety. See why the chemicals in fracking fluid have ignited a national debate and proposed legislation. More...

Video
PBS NewsHour
Groundwater Contamination May End the Gas-Fracking Boom

Groundwater Contamination May End the Gas-Fracking Boom

The water in many Pennsylvania homes near fracking wells has a high concentration of methane. Is fracking contaminating the drinking-water wells? See how scientists are seeking the answer. More...

Article
Scientific American
Health Questions Key to New York Fracking Decision, but Answers Are Scarce

Health Questions Key to New York Fracking Decision, but Answers Are Scarce

Investigate a debate on fracking’s threat to public health and safety and why a moratorium was placed on the technique. More...

Article
National Geographic
Sand from Fracking Could Pose Lung Disease Risk to Workers

Sand from Fracking Could Pose Lung Disease Risk to Workers

Using sand, along with water and chemicals, to extract natural gas presents a serious risk for workers. See the health dangers that breathing sand may cause. More...

Article
NPR
Science and the Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

Science and the Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

Explore the process of fracking, including what’s in the air and water. What does it means to live in gas country close to volatile organic compounds, methane, and more? More...

Interactive
NPR
The New Oil Landscape: Photo Gallery

The New Oil Landscape: Photo Gallery

Fracking has boosted the U.S. fuel supply, but at some cost. Take a look at photos showing life in and around some operations in North Dakota. More...

Images
National Geographic
The New Oil Landscape: What Is Fracking?

The New Oil Landscape: What Is Fracking?

Shale formations lie underneath much of the United States. View the mechanics of fracking, which has made it possible to extract natural resources that were once difficult to drill. More...

Video
National Geographic
What Is Fracking?

What Is Fracking?

In a hurry? No time to spare? Watch this 15-second animation to learn how fracking works. More...

Video
BBC
Why All the Flak About Fracking? Take the Quiz!

Why All the Flak About Fracking? Take the Quiz!

Going thousands of feet underground, fracking releases trapped natural gas. It’s a very controversial topic, so how much do you know about it? More...

Interactive
Discovery

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