May 14, 2012
Background Paper on Hydraulic Fracturing
Related Studies & Resources
Multiple federal agencies are considering regulating hydraulic fracturing. EPA, in April, 2012, finalized a suite of four new regulations for the oil and natural gas industry, including the first federal air standard for wells that are hydraulically fractured. These regulations include a new source performance standard for VOCs; a new source performance standard for sulfur dioxide; an air toxics standard for oil and natural gas production; and an air toxics standard for natural gas transmission and storage. In addition, EPA has announced that it intends to propose a rulemaking on disposal of fracturing water and fluids from shale gas extraction operations in 2014. In a related development, EPA has announced that it intends to propose a rulemaking on the disposal of wastewater from coal bed methane operations in 2013. EPA also has begun a long-term study on the impact of hydraulic fracturing on ground water and drinking water. Initial results from the study are anticipated in 2012 and a final report is expected in 2014.
The Department of the Interior has proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands it administers.Over the past four years, U.S. shale oil and gas production has increased dramatically. This increase has been the result of the application of new technology, including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, to shale formations that were once thought to be uneconomic to produce. As a result of these technological advancements, vast new oil and natural gas reserves have been unlocked. These resources, if they are allowed to be developed, promise to dramatically improve our energy security, reduce our balance of payments deficit and accelerate economic growth, particularly in energy-intensive manufacturing sectors of our economy.