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Frac Sand Mining



In the United States, industrial sand mining generally is regulated at the state and local level; however, state and local governments must conform to the standards and requirements lay out in Federal statutes and regulations that are administered by the following agencies:

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    • The Clean Air Act (CAA) (42 U.S.C. § 7401 et seq.) provides air quality standards and measures in order to control air pollution from industrial operations, among other things;
    • The Clean Water Act (CWA) (33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq.) regulates discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and provides for quality standards for surface waters;
    • The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) (42 U.S.C. § 300f et seq.) is designed to protect underground drinking water supply from industrial operations that could compromise water quality;
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
    • Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.), oil and gas operators must ensure that sand mining operations do not threaten or endanger species and their habitats;
  • U.S. Department of Labor – Mine Safety and Health Administration (MHSA)
    • The Mine Safety and Health Act (30 U.S.C. 22) provides health and safety conditions in all aspects related to mining and mineral processing operations in the U.S.;
  • U.S. Department of Labor – Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)
    • The Occupational Health and Safety Act (29 U.S.C. § 651 et seq.) provides for health and safety of workers in the workplace from exposure to chemical substances, excessive noise, or mechanical vibrations, among other things;
    • The Final Rule “Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica” (29 CFR 1910.1053) issued in March 2016 is designed to protect construction workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica and the exposure limit has been set at 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift. Silica sand generally is used during the hydraulic fracturing process;
  • U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
    • Transportation of mined sands through railroad may represent a risk to health; the Federal Railroad Administration ensures compliance with safety standards and provides for regular inspection of the railroad infrastructure;
  • U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration (FHA)
    • Transportation of mined sands between facilities generally result in use and circulation of heavy machinery; the Federal Highway Administration is responsible for monitoring transportation infrastructure and ensuring transportation safety on the Nation’s highways.

Author - Jessica Deyoe

For more information, please contact the Guide Author, Jessica Deyoe,  Research Assistant  at The Center for Agricultural and Shale Law.  

Phone: (814) 865-4290


The Center for Agricultural and Shale Law

Penn State Law

The Pennsylvania State University

329 Innovation Blvd., Suite 118

University Park, PA 16803

Phone: (814) 865-4290

Fax: (814) 865-3851