Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique for extracting oil and gas reserves from deep underground rock formations using a pressurized mixture of liquids and chemicals. Fracking has only been around for about 20 years. Within that time, it has led to a historic boom in the United States fossil fuel production. It has also led to a range of public health impacts, including air pollution, groundwater contamination, toxic chemical exposure, and subsequent illnesses that are only now being examined due to the newness of the phenomenon.
Fracking has been credited for driving down U.S. energy prices, strengthening the economy, and making possible national energy independence. But the more we learn about fracking, the clearer it becomes that the industry has downplayed the costs to the environment and communities. Indeed, the energy companies that profit most from the fracking boom externalize costs and benefit from legal loopholes that allow them to pollute without consequences.
Morgan & Morgan, the country’s largest plaintiff’s firm, has offices nationwide. Our lawyers are licensed to practice in Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and other states with a heavy fracking presence. Residents who live near a fracking operation may have claims for illness or injury, decreased property value, and environmental harm. Contact us for a free review of your legal rights.
What Is Fracking?
Fracking is an unconventional extraction method for accessing oil and natural gas that are locked in deep shale rock formations.
To create the well, a vertical rig drills thousands of feet into the earth, through the water table and sediment layers, and is then angled horizontally to access fossil fuel-bearing rock formations. The well is reinforced with steel and cement casing, creating a conduit for a massive, high-pressure mixture of water, sand, and chemicals that is pumped into the well. This “hydraulic fracturing” opens up natural cracks in the bedrock that contain trapped oil and gas, which flow up the well and are captured.
Fracking methods have existed for decades, but it was only about twenty years ago that technological improvements allowed companies to apply these methods to deep, tight rock formations. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing were first used in 1999 in the Barnett Shale of North Texas. Fracking soon spread to Appalachia and other areas of the U.S. From 2005 to 2016, more than 137,000 fracking wells were drilled or permitted in more than 20 states. The states with the largest number of wells fracked include:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
For the People, for the Planet
Morgan & Morgan believes that everyone has the right to clean air, safe drinking water, and a healthy natural environment. That’s why we fight for the planet, against the powerful corporations that seek short-term profits at the expense of a sustainable future. Our Toxics and Environmental Litigation Group is led by Kevin Hannon, who has more than 30 years of experience taking on the largest and most notorious corporate polluters.
Environmental and health concerns about fracking, and your legal rights to hold fracking companies accountable, can be discussed during a free case review.