Hydraulic Fracturing and Groundwater Contamination: Can Disclosure Rules Clarify What’s In Our Groundwater?
Hydraulic fracturing is a process whereby chemical additives, sand, and water are pumped into underground source rocks at high pressures in order to release natural gas and oil for fuel production. There are a number of potential environmental impacts associated with this process, including risks of groundwater contamination, the mishandling of wastewater, and the potential migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface. Despite these concerns, the Safe Water Drinking Act currently provides an exemption for the oil and natural gas industry and excludes the process known as hydraulic fracturing from regulatory efforts of underground injection controls. This lack of regulation, coupled with the recent rise in domestic oil and natural gas production in the United States, has led to intense debate surrounding this controversial extraction process.