Hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" is a method used to extract natural gas from underground shale formations by injecting water, chemicals, and sand with the use of high-pressure machinery, creating fissures in the rocks through which oil or natural gas can be released. This process raises concerns for public health at the local level.
Local health departments (LHDs) need to be aware of the potential health and environmental risks of fracking. LHDs can serve as a stakeholder in the regulation process and educate their communities on the issue.
In the Spotlight
A 2013 Wall Street Journal analysis determined that over 15 million Americans now live within a mile of a shale well that has been drilled since 2000, As shale energy development, also known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", takes place in communities across the United States, local public health officials and other stakeholders are seeking guidance on the issues that could accompany development. In response to this information gap, RESOLVE has created the Community Health and Shale Development Guidebook.
Local health departments (LHDs) should be ready to provide input if their communities are propositioned by the oil and gas industry for fracking activity. Readiness entails anticipating the industry's trajectory and understanding possible side effects, regulatory options, and the LHD's role in providing communities with necessary knowledge to make educated decisions. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has produced this issue brief to present a general overview of fracking and ways LHDs can mitigate potential harm from fracking. More »
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, et al. v. City of Longmont: A Stymie to Local Fracking Bans of Just the Beginning?
After 40 years of being considered an unconventional method, fracking is now the most pervasively used method of oil and gas extraction in Colorado; this is true almost exclusively across the United States. In a decade, the oil and gas wells in the state have near nearly doubled, reaching 43,354 in 2010. Fracking activity in Colorado began primarily in the Wattenberg Gas Field, where the first large-scale drilling took place. Now, lease growth follows the discovery of a new shale region, the Niobrara Shale, which sits below the Rocky Mountain range.
With most heavily controversial topics - especially those affecting communities in indeterminable ways - comes citizen action engagement. The anti-fracking movement is no exception, and in November 2012 the citizens of Longmont, CO, voted to implement a city-wide ban on fracking. More »
In the News