North America Shale Basin Map May 2011. U.S. Energy Information Administration.
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“Fracking,” also known as hydraulic fracturing, is rapidly becoming a dominant form of new oil and gas production across the United States and around the globe. 

Fracking utilizes a concentrated pressure of water, sand, and chemicals to blast open underground rock formations and release trapped gas or oil.  Although rudimentary forms of fracking have existed for decades, it is only in recent years that this existing technology has been merged with another existing technology known as horizontal drilling.  This combination has greatly expanded the scope and risks associated with fracking.  In addition, fracking today utilizes different chemicals and is conducted further below the surface (as much as two miles), allowing oil and gas companies to routinely access shale rock formations for the first time.  In sum, today’s modern form of fracking bears little resemblance to past practice, and poses new and unknown risks to environmental quality and public health, including potential drinking water contamination, groundwater depletion, air pollution, wildlife habitat destruction, and noise and light pollution.

Shale formations underlie vast portions of the United States, and this new form of fracking has rapidly spread from where it was pioneered, the Barnett shale around Dallas and Fort Worth, to other formations such as the Haynesville in Oklahoma, the Eagle Ford in south Texas, the Woodford in Oklahoma, and the “mighty Marcellus,” stretching across much of Pennsylvania and New York.  Fracking has now arrived in California’s Monterey Shale and EDC’s service area, including northern Santa Barbara County and coastal Ventura County.

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