Shale Gas and Hydraulic Fracturing in the Great Lakes Region: Current Issues and Public Opinion

April 2014

This report presents the views of people living within the Great Lakes Basin regarding hydraulic fracturing and shale gas drilling. Hydraulic fracturing, the injection of a fluid after drilling to crack open shale rock to release oil or gas, has been used by industry for decades. However, recent breakthroughs in horizontal drilling techniques combined with hydraulic fracturing, have enabled oil and gas recovery from “unconventional” oil and gas reserves, previously considered inaccessible. This process is commonly known as “fracking,” which can refer to just the hydraulic fracturing process itself or the entire drilling process.

As the developments in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technology have produced an increase in oil and gas supplies, many states in the US and provinces in Canada are trying to determine how to leverage the associated economic potential. In response to this rapid change in the energy landscape and the potential future energy portfolios of the US and Canada, this report serves to provide background on shale developments within the Great Lakes Region—Ontario, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—as well as a preliminary assessment of public opinion of fracking from residents within the Great Lakes Basin.