Congressional Research Service. February 5, 2014.

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the key federal law for protecting public water supplies from harmful contaminants. First enacted in 1974 and substantially amended in 1986 and 1996, the act is administered through programs that establish standards and treatment requirements for public water supplies, control underground injection of wastes, finance infrastructure projects, and protect sources of drinking water. This report summarizes the SDWA and its major programs and regulatory requirements. In addition, this report includes statistics on the number and types of regulated public water systems. It also provides a table that lists all major amendments, with the year of enactment and public law number, and that crossreference sections of the act with the major U.S. Code sections of the codified statute. [PDF format, 22 pages].

Congressional Research Service. December 20, 2013.

With congressional approval, the Nixon Administration established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970 under an executive branch reorganization plan, which consolidated numerous federal pollution control responsibilities that had been divided among several federal agencies. EPA’s responsibilities grew over time as Congress enacted an increasing number of environmental statutes and major amendments to these statutes. EPA’s primary responsibilities have evolved to include the regulation of air quality, water quality, and chemicals in commerce; the development of regulatory criteria for the management and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes; and the cleanup of environmental contamination. Congress has assigned EPA the administration of a considerable body of law and associated programs and activities. This report is not comprehensive in terms of summarizing all laws administered by EPA, but covers the major, basic statutory authorities underlying the agency’s programs and activities, and those which EPA has delegated to the states. [PDF format, 136 pages].

Congressional Research Service. July 12, 2012.

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique developed initially to stimulate oil production from wells in declining oil reservoirs. With technological advances, hydraulic fracturing is now widely used to initiate oil and gas production in unconventional (low-permeability) oil and gas formations that were previously inaccessible. This process now is used in more than 90% of new oil and gas wells. The report reviews past and proposed treatment of hydraulic fracturing under the SDWA, the principal federal statute for regulating the underground injection of fluids to protect groundwater sources of drinking water. [PDF format, 42 pages].

Congressional Research Service. April 10, 2012.

The rapidly increasing and geographically expanding use of hydraulic fracturing, along with a growing number of citizen complaints and state investigations of well water contamination attributed to this practice, has led to calls for greater state and/or federal environmental regulation and oversight of this activity. This report reviews past and proposed treatment of hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the principal federal statute for regulating the underground injection of fluids to protect groundwater sources of drinking water. It reviews current SDWA provisions for regulating underground injection activities, and discusses some possible implications of, and issues associated with, enactment of legislation authorizing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate hydraulic fracturing under this statute. [PDF format, 38 pages].

U.S. Government Accountability Office. Web posted February 8, 2012.

Water is a significant byproduct associated with oil and gas exploration and production. This water, known as “produced water,” may contain a variety of contaminants. If produced water is not appropriately managed or treated, these contaminants may present a human health and environmental risk. GAO was asked to describe (1) what is known about the volume and quality of produced water from oil and gas production; (2) what practices are generally used to manage and treat produced water, and what factors are considered in the selection of each; (3) how produced water management is regulated at the federal level and in selected states; and (4) what federal research and development efforts have been undertaken during the last 10 years related to produced water. [PDF format, 56 pages].