Regulating Hydraulic Fracturing: States Take Action

January 2011

For more up-to-date material on hydraulic fracturing state legislative action (revised June 2012), please see Natural Gas Development and Hydraulic Fracturing: A Policymaker’s Guide.

Hydraulic fracturing—“fracking”—is a drilling technique that uses hydraulic pressure to break up rock and optimize natural gas extraction. Although the first use of fracking for oil or gas production occurred in the 1940s, its rapid expansion near populated areas has drawn attention to its potential effects on human health and the environment. This paper explores the economic benefits, human health concerns, and environmental risks of fracking, and addresses what states do to regulate, permit and enforce activities relating to natural gas development.


  • Natural Gas: A Key Role in U.S. Energy Supply
  • What Is Fracking?
  • Local Economic Effects of Natural Gas Fracking
  • Human Health and Environmental Concerns
  • Federal Regulation
  • State Action
  • Conclusion

To view PDF files, you must install Adobe Acrobat Reader

pdf logoDownload PDF Version