Hydraulic Fracturing "Fracking"
Technological advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking,” have made oil and natural gas production America’s fastest growing industries.
Oil and natural gas development is regulated primarily at the state level. Maryland and New York have banned hydraulic fracturing. Other states, including Colorado, North Dakota, and Texas, have implemented common-sense rules to minimize the potential environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing while maximizing the economic benefits. These regulations typically focus on site design, drilling procedures, well design and specifications, regulatory oversight and monitoring, and the handling of materials and waste.
Hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas production has dramatically increased the demand for industrial silica sand, known as “frac sand,” available in great abundance in the Upper Midwest. As new sand mines and processing facilities are proposed, the policymakers and citizens of counties with frac sand resources are being asked to evaluate the potential economic benefits and costs of industrial sand mining.
Hydraulic fracturing has created high-paying jobs and boosted tax revenues in every state where it occurs. The potential for revenue from hydraulic fracturing has not been lost on states such as California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. Some Pennsylvania lawmakers are seeking to impose a severance tax on natural gas to raise additional money for state coffers. However, with natural gas prices remaining near or below the cost of production, lawmakers risk discouraging drilling investment in their states by raising or imposing severance taxes.
The benefits of fracking and silica sand mining are numerous, including opportunities for high-paying employment, increases in regional economic activity, new tax revenues for state and local governments, and improvements in economic diversity in rural communities that otherwise rely heavily on agriculture for household income.