The diagram below helps demonstrate the process of fracking. Very basically, water is injected at high pressures to open up natural gas supplies, and sand is used to hold open the wells long so that the natural gas can be extracted.
A previously unreported study out of the Oklahoma Geological Survey has found that hydraulic fracturing may have triggered a swarm of small earthquakes earlier this year in Oklahoma. The quakes, which struck on Jan. 18 in a rural area near Elmore City, peaked at magnitude 2.8 and caused no deaths or property damage.
The study, currently being prepared for peer review, follows news today that Cuadrilla Resources, a British shale gas developer, has found that it was “highly probable” its fracturing operations caused minor quakes of magnitude 2.3 and 1.5 in Lancashire, England. The Cuadrilla study could complicate the expansion of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in risk-averse Europe, where France has already banned the practice.
The video below is a debate of fracking that centers on The City of Syracuse (New York) to ban fracking within city limits and limit where the wastewater from fracking can be stored. A proponent of fracking, Don Siegel, professor of earth sciences at Syracuse University, is confident that fracking does not have any long lasting, inherent risks to the environment based on the research. He is backed up by a great deal of research and evidence, and this greatly supports his cause. While they do not deny that the risks may be small, Kathleen Joy, Syracuse Council majority leader and Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of Onondaga Council of Chiefs of Onondaga Nation, helped push through the ban in order to prevent even the chance of errors. Lyons states that we must take the "long view and the large view...you have to protect the commons." Joy compares the current push for fracking to the past push for industrial uses that resulted in great pollution of lakes and water sources, and the ban helps to "stop the process before that happens."
"The Scoop on Frac Sand." Morse, Ed. Wisconsin Rural Water Journal, Fall 2011, Pg 44-45.