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Transport, Storage and Disposal of Fracking Waste Regulation in USA

Author: By: Lee R. Hansen, Associate Analyst - Office of Legislative Research - January 2014

QUESTIONS

How is the transportation, storage, and disposal of fracking waste regulated? Are there best practices for transporting, storing, and disposing fracking waste? What studies have examined the potential dangers fracking waste poses to the public or ecology?

SUMMARY

The transportation, storage, and disposal of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) waste are regulated under a variety of federal and state laws.

Contaminated water, which is fracking’s largest waste product, is typically (1) treated to remove contaminants and discharged into surface waters, (2) recycled for use on other fracking projects, or (3) injected into specialized wells.

Treating and discharging fracking wastewater is generally regulated under the federal Clean Water Act, which establishes permitting standards for treatment facilities and water quality standards for the treated water being discharged back into surface waters. Underground injections of fracking wastewater are regulated under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which sets permitting requirements for injection wells. Both laws allow federally approved state agencies to administer them. States can also enact their own, more stringent, requirements. Regulating the recycling of fracking wastewater is generally left up to the states.

 

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