Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of extracting natural gas by blasting underground rock with water, sand and chemicals. People are protesting its use, saying fracking causes "yellowed and foul-smelling well water, deformed livestock, poisoned fish and itchy skin".
The NYT looks at the tension boiling over in a community in southwestern Pennsylvania, a region that's a hotbed for natural gas. On one side, you have the people, newly weary of big corporations and their knack for cutting corners and reckless nature towards the environment. They believe that there hasn't been enough testing to prove that fracking doesn't damage the groundwater.
On the other side, you have natural gas corporations, who believe that fracking, which uses mostly water and sand, isn't responsible for the contaminated groundwater and are pushing natural gas as a clean energy source as we transition away from foreign oil.
In the middle is the EPA, which is on a "listening tour" as it tries to figure out a $US1.9 million study on fracking's impact on groundwater to answer the question definitively. However it shakes out, somebody's going to be unhappy. [NYTimes]