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You may have heard about hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking,” in the news. But do you know what happens during fracking?

The U.S. Geological Survey has answers to common questions. Learn more about fracking.

What agency has jurisdiction over Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in drilling for natural gas and oil, the EPA or DOE or who?

Asked by an anonymous Tumblr user.

Hydraulic fracturing involves the high-pressure injection of substances into already drilled oil and gas wells in order to fracture the underground formations holding the oil or gas. 

Individual states regulate fracturing that occurs within their borders, and they have different rules over the use of the process. According to a Congressional Research Service report dated April 10, 2012, “Hydraulic Fracturing and Safe Drinking Water Act Issues,” numerous states are reviewing or have revised their oil and gas rules to address the increased use of hydraulic fracturing. 

As for federal government regulation, the Safe Drinking Water Act provides the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the authority to regulate fracturing only when diesel fuel is used in the process. Currently, the EPA is performing a long term study on fracturing and how it may impact drinking water. The study should be finished late this year.  

There are also several bills on the subject that are pending in Congress. House of Representatives bill 1084 and Senate bill 587 would allow the EPA to regulate fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Senate bill 2248 and House of Representatives bill 4322 would specify that a state has sole authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal lands within state boundaries.