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Steve Chiotakis: Well, this week, lawmakers are expected to introduce legislation that
would place federal scrutiny over a controversial drilling practice. The technique has up to now been exempt from U.S. government oversight, thanks to a law passed during the Bush administration. The oil industry says reversing it would add big fees and could very well affect exploration. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, here's Sam Eaton.


Sam Eaton: Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" as it's called in the industry, refers to the practice of injecting water, sand and chemicals into rock formations at extremely high pressures. The process creates thousands of cracks in the rock so hard-to-reach oil and gas reserves can flow to the surface.

But there's also the risk that the chemicals used, things like benzene and hydrochloric acid, could contaminate the ground water of nearby communities. Places like suburban Cleveland and Fort Worth, Texas. That's why lawmakers and environmentalists want fracking to be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Bruce Baizel is with the Oil and Gas Accountability Project:

Bruce Baizel: If you have a water well, they don't really know where all these fractures or cracks are. They put these chemicals down there, and the next thing you know you may be seeing them in your water well.

But the oil industry says those fears are unfounded. It says states already regulate the process. And any federal oversight would be redundant, except for the additional costs it would impose on the industry.

I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

Follow Sam Eaton at @eatonsam