EPA Steps Into Fray Over Fracking

Natural gas is burned off next to water reservoirs used for fracking at an oil well site August 23, 2011 near Tioga, North Dakota. Hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking or hydrofracking, is the process of initiating and subsequently propagating a fracture in a rock layer, employing the pressure of a fluid as the source of energy The fracturing, known as a frack job is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations, in order to increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of oil and natural gas and coal seam gas. A new oil boom in western North Dakota has produced thousands of jobs as the Bakken formation is tapped for the liquid commodity.  (National Journal)

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released guidelines for the use of diesel fuel in fracking operations.

According to the EPA, the guidance will inform how the agency writes permits aimed at protecting underground stores of drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The law requires that any driller using diesel fuel to frack a well must obtain a permit from the agency.

The guidance is likely to face pushback from the natural-gas industry. Environmental groups, however, welcomed the news.

"The EPA has made a small step toward curbing one of the many threats from fracking," Environment America's Clean Water Program director Courtney Abrams told The Hill.

The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, meanwhile, is separately working to finalize regulations for fracking on public lands.