Fracking (horizontal hydraulic fracturing) is a way to release natural gas from shale, located thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface. The Fracking process can be dangerous to ground water, affect human health and increase greenhouse gas effect through the release of methane gas.

General Information

Fracking (horizontal hydraulic fracturing) is a way to release natural gas from shale.

  • Wells are drilled vertically to desired depth (thousands of feet deeper than tradition natural wells) and then turn 90 degrees and continue horizontally.
  • A mix of water, sand and chemicals is pumped into the well at high pressure to create fissures in the shale through which the gas can escape and be drawn up to the surface for processing and marketing.
  • Waste water (flowback water ) returns to the surface. It contains chemicals and can pick up radioactive elements and toxic metals. It needs to be stored and disposed of safely to keep these contaminants from polluting our air and water.

Companies engaged in fracking have resisted disclosure of the contents of the fracking fluid, preferring to focus on the advantage of energy independence for USA and increased employment as a result of fracking.

The Big Picture

Natural gas is being fracked in many areas of our country. Fuel companies tout the economic advantages, jobs and energy independence for the country. (Actually, there is a glut of natural gas in the US at present; so much of this fracked gas is for export.) The greatest danger is contamination of our water supply. A young boy’s poster read at a recent protest:

“I can live without gas, but not without water.”

There are also health effects reported by those living near frack wells. The amount of water for each well (between 2 and 5 million gallons of fresh water per well) reduces the supply of potable water as it becomes contaminated with the fracking chemicals. There is no proven method for treating the waste water. It is transported across state lines and used in winter as a de-icer (!) for roads.  Many states accepted fracking before knowing the health hazards. New York State is under a 6 year moratorium banning fracking. .

water-windowThe GNSH Response

The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart Earth Committee has focused on the dangers of fracking for the past several years, educating members, associates and colleagues about the drawbacks of this process. Our sisters live in Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland, all states where fracking is a pressing issue.

  • We pray for fresh water for ourselves and the people of the world as this is a human right without which we cannot live.
  • Our Sisters have demonstrated against fracking in various sites and testified before municipalities to seek a ban on fracking.
  • We collaborate with other groups working on this issue.


Each day, the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart say this prayer to keep our waters clean and free from fracking:

 “Heart of Jesus, Fount of life and holiness, satisfy our thirst for living water.”

Please join us in this prayer.



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The Grey Nuns