Main Discussion

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial method for extracting natural gas from the ground, “where millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped underground to break apart the rock and release the gas” (Granberg, 2008). Citizens, grassroots organizations, coalitions, and celebrities have all been advocating to end fracking. Through channels such as films, newspapers, television, environmental magazines, the Internet, and political calls to action, these varied groups hope their advocacy efforts will put a stop to hydraulic fracturing in the United States and around the globe.

Hydraulic fracturing has been in existence since 1949, but only recently has there been controversy. Previously, fracking was applied to conventional pipes with vertical wells. Now, due to advances in technology, horizontal wells are drilled and fracked, on a much larger scale (U.S. Department of Energy, 2015). Those who oppose fracking believe the process can contaminate a local water supply with harmful chemicals if fracking liquids seep into the groundwater. In addition, it is believed that fracking greatly disturbs local communities with heavy truck traffic, dust, land disruptions, and loss of property values. Fracking is also opposed because of the locations of the shale formations being drilled. Chemical engineer Robert Rapier states, “One of these formations is the Marcellus Shale, which lies underneath parts of New York, Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, western Maryland, and West Virginia -- many areas with high population density that weren't used to oil and gas exploration. I suspect that if the Marcellus was underneath Wyoming, the majority of the country would have still never heard of fracking” (Rapier, 2014). As a result of this opposition, activism against fracking developed.