The Bay Journal has been writing a lot about fracking in the past year, including:
Are the fluids used in fracking toxic?Often, companies that perform fracking operations don't publicly reveal what compounds they use to facilitate the gas extraction process. (Halliburton may prove an exception to the rule; it has agreed to give the government data about the fracking chemicals it uses by January 2011.) When Farnham & Associates, an environmental engineering firm, tested a well near a hydraulic fracturing zone in Pennsylvania, it found a range of contaminants in the water, including ethylene glycol and toluene, both of which can be toxic to humans. They appear on a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection list of compounds known to be used in hydraulic fracturing, but Cabot Oil and Gas, the company that conducted the drilling, claimed it had not used the chemicals.
What impact does fracking have on drinking water?Some people living near fracking sites have reported abnormalities in their tap water, including dark-colored grease, sediments and floating debris. The EPA has revealed plans to conduct a large-scale study to look into the problem further. "There are serious concerns about whether the process of hydraulic fracturing impacts drinking water. Further study is warranted," the agency announced in a statement released earlier this year. The investigation is slated to begin in January 2011.
Fracking FAQ from Popular Mechanics
Here's PM's take on environmental impacts (via Glenn):