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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
July 16, 2015
Why We Did This Review
The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA),
Office of Inspector General
(OIG), conducted this review to
evaluate how the EPA and
states use existing authorities
to regulate the potential
impacts of hydraulic fracturing
on water.
The use of horizontal drilling
with hydraulic fracturing greatly
expanded the ability of
producers to recover natural
gas and oil from
unconventional sources.
According to an April 2014
report by the U.S. Energy
Information Administration,
natural gas production is
projected to increase by
56 percent from 2012 to 2040.
In addition, crude oil production
will climb from 7.5 million
barrels per day in 2013 to
9.6 million barrels per day by
2019. The increase in
unconventional oil and gas
development has led to new
and increased potential impacts
to water resources.
This report addresses the
following EPA goals or
cross-agency strategies:
	Protecting America's
	Ensuring the safety of
chemicals and preventing
Send all inquiries to our public
affairs office at (202) 566-2391
or visit www.epa.gov/oiq.
Enhanced EPA Oversight and Action Can
Further Protect Water Resources From the
Potential impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing
What We Found
Since 2007, the EPA, states and
other stakeholders have collectively
established regulations, policy,
guidance, industry standards and
recommended practices to manage
impacts to water resources from
unconventional oil and gas
development. Our review identified
two issues in need of improvement by
the EPA.
Enhanced EPA oversight of the
permitting process for diesel fuel use
during hydraulic fracturing can further
EPA efforts to protect water resources,
and establishment of a plan for
determining whether to propose a
chemical disclosure rule can help
address the public's concerns about
hydraulic fracturing chemicals.
First, the EPA needs to improve oversight of permit issuance for hydraulic
fracturing using diesel fuels, and address any related compliance issues.
Evidence shows that companies have used diesel fuels during hydraulic fracturing
without EPA or primacy state underground injection control Class II permits. The
EPA has also not determined whether primacy states and tribes are following the
agency's interpretive memorandum for issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing
using diesel fuels. Enhanced EPA oversight can increase assurance that risks
associated with diesel fuel hydraulic fracturing are being adequately addressed.
Second, the EPA needs to develop a plan for responding to the public's concerns
about chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. In May 2014, the EPA initiated a
process to evaluate whether to establish federal requirements for chemical
disclosure. However, the agency has not yet developed a plan of action for further
steps in this proposed rulemaking activity. A plan outlining the agency's next steps
would inspire public confidence that the agency is indeed taking action to evaluate
disclosure options within a defined timeframe.
Recommendations and Planned Agency Corrective Actions
We recommend that the EPA's Assistant Administrator for Water determine
whether primacy states and tribes issue permits for the use of diesel fuels as
required. We recommend that the Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and
Compliance Assurance address any compliance issues related to issuing permits
for hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuels. We also recommend that the Assistant
Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention establish and publish
a plan with milestone dates that outlines all steps for determining whether to
propose a rule to obtain information concerning chemical substances and
mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing.
The full report is at:
The agency either agreed with our recommendations or proposed actions that
meet the intent of our recommendations. All recommendations are resolved or
closed and no further response from the agency is needed.