What is fracking?

Fracking accounts for about 66% of natural gas production and 50% of oil output

Fracking has become a hot-button issue in the final weeks of the election as President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden fight for votes in Pennsylvania and other energy-producing states.

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The fracking process, which involves injecting water into shale rock at high pressure to extract natural gas, has revolutionized the oil and gas industry by allowing producers to reach large quantities within shale rock that were previously unattainable and cost-prohibitive to drill.

BIDEN'S FEDERAL FRACKING BAN PROMPTS WARNINGS FROM BIG ENERGY

As a result, oil and gas production in the U.S. has nearly tripled over the past decade. More than 95% of new wells use hydraulic fracking, accounting for about two-thirds of natural gas production and half of oil output in 2018, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

Proponents argue that fracking is critical for the U.S. becoming energy independent and is also the reason for a sharp drop in carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade.

Opponents, however, say that fracking pollutes drinking water and air and releases greenhouse gases into the ozone, contributing to global warming. Those are among the reasons that Biden, seeking to curb climate change, has proposed halting federal subsidies for the practice.

The fracking boom has been a key contributor to a surge in jobs in the oil and gas industry, which supports 10.3 million U.S. workers, or 5.6% of the country’s labor force, according to the API.

The jobs are frequently cited by Trump, who says his opponent's policies will kill them, leaving more people out of work as the country digs its way out of a coronavirus-induced recession.

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A 2016 Chamber of Commerce study found that 4.3 million jobs would have never been created without fracking and that the practice has added $500 billion to the U.S. economy.