Health and safety questions surrounding hydraulic fracturing have spurred battles in several states between neighbors and between farmers and environmentalists. In New York, the governor appointed a panel to investigate allegations that fracking may contaminate underground drinking water. The Research Council study was not tasked with assessing water quality surrounding hydraulic fracturing.
New York City gets roughly half its water from the Delaware River Basin, a key area for hydraulic fracturing.
Both the Upper Delaware and Monongahela rivers sit on an area called the Marcellus Shale, which lies beneath large parts of Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia at a depth of 5,000 to 8,000 feet, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
The shale is believed to hold trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. Before technological advances in hydraulic fracturing, the natural gas in the region had been considered too expensive for access.