You are here

States Challenge Attempted Federal Power Grab in Hydraulic Fracturing Issue



Contact:  Erica Carr  405-525-3556 x106,  [email protected]

Oklahoma City, OK June 10, 2009 -- The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) reaffirmed its strong stance today that the states remain the best positioned to regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing for the production of oil and natural gas.

The response comes on the heels of a bill introduced in the House and the Senate yesterday calling for the repeal of the exemption of hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which would ultimately give the federal government jurisdiction over the regulation of the technology.

"The states do a superb job of protecting human health and the environment through sound regulation," said Carl Michael Smith, IOGCC executive director. "An unnecessary shift to federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing could greatly inhibit the production of much-needed oil and natural gas resources at a time when our nation's energy security is critical."

Hydraulic fracturing is a common half century old technology that plays a major role in the development of virtually all unconventional oil and natural gas resources. Recently some have made claims that the process can contaminate underground drinking water sources.

Historically the states have been the primary regulators of hydraulic fracturing. IOGCC member states each have comprehensive laws and regulations to provide for safe operations and to protect drinking water sources, and have trained personnel to effectively regulate oil and natural gas exploration and production.

Multiple studies have been conducted on this issue, including an extensive study by the U.S. EPA in 2004 and a survey of IOGCC member state regulators. To date there are no verified cases of contamination of underground drinking water as a result of the process.

"As the head regulator of oil and natural gas development in the state of North Dakota and an officer of the IOGCC representing all oil and natural gas producing state regulators, I can assure you that we have no higher priority than the protection of our states' water resources," said Lynn Helms, director of North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources in a House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee hearing last week. "It is my firmly held view and that of the IOGCC that the subject of hydraulic fracturing is adequately regulated by the states and needs no further study."

The IOGCC passed a resolution urging Congress to refrain from taking action on this issue in December of last year maintaining that SDWA was never intended to grant the federal government authority to regulate oil and gas drilling and production operations, such as "hydraulic fracturing," under the Underground Injection Control program. Since that time several states have followed suit and filed their own resolutions, including Alabama, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

"Regulation of hydraulic fracturing as underground injection under the SDWA would impose significant administrative costs on the state, substantially increase the cost of drilling oil and natural gas wells with no resulting environmental benefits, and increase energy costs to the consumer," the resolution stated.

To view IOGCC's full resolution, visit

The IOGCC, representing the governors of 30 member and eight associate states, promotes the conservation and efficient recovery of the nation's oil and natural gas resources while protecting health, safety, and the environment. Established by the charter member states' governors in 1935, it is the oldest, largest, and most effective interstate compact in the nation.