Buzzwords: What is "Fracking"?

Both presidential candidates mentioned natural gas in last night's debate. Energy independence is certainly a hot issue in this election and they both discussed the possibility of using natural gas as a means to bring the United States to  independence. What the candidates did not mention, however, is how much of this natural gas is likely to be harvested - via fracking

image courtesy of USAToday.com

Fracking is the use of high pressurized fluid to fracture rock layers to release natural gas and petroleum. It was first used in Texas in 1998 and has gained recent interest as a way to get access to previously inaccessible gas reserves. 

Critics are concerned about the environmental impact of fracking. There are major possibilities that fracking could contaminate drinking water and increase air pollution. In addition, large amounts of water are needed for this process which is seen as wasteful. To learn more about other health and environmental consequences of fracking, click here.