Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking” as it is commonly called) is nothing new. The technique, pumping high-pressure, chemical-laced water and sand down a well to extract oil and gas from rock, has been used by drillers since the 1970’s, when the U.S. government and various energy groups first conducted research studies and pilot demonstrations of the method. But it’s the current scale of fracking projects, and the controversy surrounding them, that has brought the issue into focus.
From 2007 to 2010, shale gas production more than tripled to over 5 trillion cubic feet and is on track to double again over the next two decades, according to federal government data and the Energy Information Administration. Energy companies continue to lease land across the U.S. and build new wells in Texas, Illinois and Iowa. Proponents see
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