Meet the frackers

Equipment used for the extraction of natural gas is viewed at a hydraulic fracturing site on June 19, 2012 in South Montrose, Pennsylvania. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

­As oil stocks run low, extracting oil from shale, or fracking, is the energy buzz of the year. It's happening worldwide and in 34 of the United States. But with all the environmental and health risks, is it worth it?

In Texas they're used to big oil; for generations it has helped to forge the formidable Texas character. But spreading out across the state is the controversial process of fracking. It involves injecting huge quantities of water and chemicals into the ground, which shatter the shale and release gas and oil. It's part of an accelerated quest within the US for energy independence to loosen reliance on the Middle East and shoot for homegrown solutions to energy demand. For those working in the industry, it's creating rapid wealth and shows no sign of slowing down. "Every day, probably to the end of this world, we'll keep drillin'", says one rig worker. But with otherwise residential neighborhoods becoming industrial zones, this dangerous process is starting to take a serious toll on the health of local residents. "They're here to rape this land, make as much money as they can and get the hell out of here", says a North Dakota farmer who blames fracking for her failing health. As this process gains momentum across America, fracking is fast becoming a dirty word. 

A Film by ABC Australia

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