Federal Fracking Regulations

Fracking and other forms of well stimulation are largely exempt from most federal environmental legislation. The numerous fracking exemptions and absence of federal fracking regulations leave the job of regulating to the states.1 Learn more here about litigation involving federal lands.

Fracking Exemptions to Federal Policies

Act Purpose Fracking Exemption
Clean Air Act of 1963 Control air pollution at the federal level. Treats each individual well as a source of pollutants and does not require well operators to consider the aggregate impact of many wells in a specific area.2
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 Requires federal agencies to conduct environmental assessments of federal actions. Energy Policy Act of 2005 excludes oil and gas drilling from NEPA.3
Clean Water Act of 1972 Ensure that surface waters meet minimum pollution standards. Fracking fluids are exempt from classification as pollutants even though more common pollutants such as storm run-off are included.

Safe Water Drinking Act of 1974

Protect the quality of the country's groundwater and drinking water supply. Amended in 2005 to exclude injection wells.4
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 To regulate waste for the protection of human health and the environment. Waste from oil fields was exempted in 1982.5
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 Regulates many aspects of federal energy policy. Only regulates fracking when diesel fuels are used in the fracking fluids. 6
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