Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, is a drilling process used in the extraction of underground oil or natural gas trapped in hard-to-reach shale rock formations deep within the earth. The process involves well construction, acquisition of source water, well stimulation by hydraulic fracturing (using fluids that typically contain a variety of chemicals), and waste disposal.

Advances in horizontal drilling technology make significant shale gas formations newly accessible for development. As a result, natural gas production in the U.S. is at its highest level in more than 30 years.

The rise of fracking offers the potential for a significant economic boom to the areas with major formations containing substantial amounts of natural gas, including states such as North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, and Louisiana. However, it is not without controversy. As the fracking industry grows, so too do media reports and governmental investigations regarding its perceived risks. It was only a matter of time before litigation ensued, involving those both engaged in and allegedly impacted by such activity.

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