Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a mining process that releases small amounts of oil from tar sands. The process uses large amounts of water which is injected deep underground as high pressure steam. The steam dissolves the oil in the tar sands and it is brought to the surface by the fracking fluid which also contains solvents. The water that is used becomes contaminated by the solvents and by other toxic chemicals which are brought up by the process in addition to the small amount of oil that is recovered. [link]
The government of the state of North Dakota has taken a cooperative tactic with the hydraulic fracturing industry. However the environmental impact has been significant and the rate of spills has escalated over the years rather than improving which suggests that the more stringent regulations or fines used in other states may be more protective than expecting cooperation from the drilling companies.
“Over all, more than 18.4 million gallons of oils and chemicals spilled, leaked or misted into the air, soil and waters of North Dakota from 2006 through early October 2014. (In addition, the oil industry reported spilling 5.2 million gallons of nontoxic substances, mostly fresh water, which can alter the environment and carry contaminants.)” [link]