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Oil & Gas - Water Quality, Water Quantity, and Air Quality

Improved technological developments in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as “fracking,” have resulted in an oil and gas production boom nationwide. These technological advancements are used to unlock oil and gas from shale deposits across the country, including regions unaccustomed to the industry and those that have a century-long relationship with oil and gas extraction.

Increased shale oil and shale gas development has been accompanied by increased concerns about water quality, water quantity, and air quality issues related to the development. Wastewater discharges, hydraulic fracturing fluid chemicals, improper casing and/or cementing of the bore hole, and accidental spills pose potential water quality risks. The quantity of water used to hydraulically fracture a well also varies widely depending on geologic conditions – 2 to 7 million gallons of water per well – and a well may be fracked more than once. The amount of water consumed and the timing of the water usage are of growing concern nationwide, but particularly in arid regions or in areas experiencing water shortages. Air quality concerns from the waste of methane through leaks and intentional venting and flaring of gas as well as the release of volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants, like benzene and toluene, from well site operations are also prevalent.

This collection of datasets and maps includes water quality, water quantity, and air quality statutes and regulations of four federal agencies (Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Forest Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency), 17 states (Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming). These jurisdictions regulate oil and gas development in the major shale formations such as the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Fayetteville, Greater Green River, Haynesville, Mancos, Marcellus, Monterey, New Albany, Niobrara, Permian, Piceance, Powder River, San Juan, Uinta, Woodford and others.


Related Resources:

Water Quality – Intermountain Oil and Gas Best Management Practices 

State Review of Oil & Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER)

State of State Shale Gas Regulation - Resources for the Future

State Oil and Natural Gas Regulations Designed to Protect Water Resources 

FracFocus: Chemical Disclosure Registry

Water Resource Reporting and Water Footprint from Marcellus Shale Development in West Virginia and Pennsylvania

Hydraulic Fracturing & Water Stress: Water Demand by the Numbers

O&G States

LawAtlas Interactive Maps: 

Air Quality:  Air Quality Laws Pertaining to Oil and Gas Development

Water Quality:  Permitting, Design, and Construction

Water Quality:  Well Drilling

Water Quality:  Well Completion

Water Quality:  Production and Operation

Water Quality:  Reclamation

Water Quantity:  Quantity