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Comprehensive Regulatory Control and Oversight of Industrial Sand (Frac Sand) Mining

December 5, 2016

Industrial silica sand mining is governed by a comprehensive regulatory apparatus established to protect human and environmental health from the potential impacts of all industrial activities, including industrial sand mining.

This bubble graph shows the complex and overlapping regulatory structure that governs frac sand mining at the federal, state, and local levels.

Critics of frac sand mining claim it is an unregulated industry allowed to run roughshod over local communities, harming the environment and endangering public health. That myth is laid to rest in this Heartland Policy Study by Mark Krumenacher, a senior principal and senior vice president of GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., and Heartland Institute Research Fellow Isaac Orr.

Krumenacher and Orr describe federal, state, and local regulations applying to industrial sand operations and provide concrete examples of the complex overlapping regulatory oversight (depicted in the bubble graph) that applies to industrial sand operations. They note,

[E]very aspect of industrial sand mining is regulated by more than 20,000 pages of federal, state, or local government laws and ordinances. This comprehensive regulatory structure is designed to protect the health and welfare of the environment, the general public, and people working at industrial sand operations.

This study is the fifth in a series of Heartland Policy Studies by Orr and Krumenacher; the others address the environmental, economic, roadway, and social impacts of frac sand mining. They are all available on Heartland’s website at

Krumenacher and Orr are available for press interviews, talk radio, testimony to state and local officials, and speaking engagements. Please contact Veronica Harrison at to make the arrangements.

Isaac Orr is a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment on mining and energy issues and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute. @thefrackingguy
Mark Krumenacher is a principal and senior vice president of GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. and works in its Waukesha, Wisconsin office. He is a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.