Hydrofracking is a procedure used by oil and gas companies where a mixture of water, chemicals, and sand is pumped down a well in a shale formation at a high pressure to “fracture” the shale rock and allow natural gas contained tightly in the formation to be accessible for commercial use.

Natural gas reserves previously inaccessible are now accessible through a technique called high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Arguments have been made that these reserves are being sought as a means of slowing climate change because it burns more cleanly than coal and oil. However, scientist say that the methane released during extraction, which is a climate gas, is as bad or even worse for climate change.

There are other significant environmental risks too. One well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater. That wastewater often includes naturally occurring chemicals brought up from thousands of feet underground such as highly corrosive salts and carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium in addition to other carcinogenic materials added by the industry as part of the hydrofracking itself. The industry is arguably far outpacing our environmental regulations. We need to assess the impacts of this practice and whether we have the right laws in place to protect our resources or if this is even the right practice for our region. For more information or for additional resources please email

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.