NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Frac Sand Safe Despite What Environmentalists Say

May 14, 2015

The rate of silica sand mining in the United States has increased in recent years, due in large part to the tremendous growth in hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas using horizontal drilling techniques. Someenvironmental activist groups and community organizers contend silica sand mining presents significant threats to human health and the environment. Scientific evidence strongly refutes such claims.

  • Studies conducted by regulatory bodies and research groups have conclusively shown silica sand mining operations do not increase the concentrations of silica sand particles in the ambient air downwind of such operations.
  • Water use data show silica sand mining operations consume a small fraction of statewide water resources.
  • The existing local, state, and federal regulatory structure is designed to ensure silica sand mining - and myriad other industrial operations - is conducted in a manner that ensures compliance with air and water quality standards, and thus protects human health and the environment.
  • The increase in silica and sand mining has had a substantial economic and employment benefits in the states that have benefited from the silica sand mining boom.
  • Silica sand mining is an important part of the larger, recent revolution in domestic energy production, by which the United States is producing ever-increasing amounts of affordable clean energy by tapping into a huge supply of heretofore-untouched resources.

Silica sand mining has minimal environmental impact, involves virtually no public health risk and is an important part of domestic energy production that has substantial economic benefits.

Source: Isaac Orr and Mark Krumenacher, "Environmental Impacts of Industrial Silica Sand (Frac Sand) Mining," Heartland Institute, May 2015. 


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