Fracking is a method of extracting natural gas from deep in the ground by injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure into dense rock formations such as shale, in order to crack the rock and release the gas.
According to a minority staff report released last year by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, more than 650 commonly used fracking products contain chemicals that are "known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as hazardous air pollutants."
While New York State has not taken this step, many towns have acted to ban or delay any fracking in their area. On April 27, Bethel became the most recent town in upstate New York to ban fracking. This interactive map shows the locations of the 100 towns and municipalities in upstate New York which have banned fracking.
Many local groups have joined the New Yorkers Against Fracking coalition to urge Albany to pass a statewide fracking ban in New York. Individual groups, such as the Catskill Mountainkeeper are very active in this issue and can keep you up-to-date on developments.