Policy Paper No. 1 of 5 - "Environmental Impacts of Industrial Silica Sand (Frac Sand) Mining"

Mark Krumenacher and Isaac Orr

Sand has been mined for industrial processes across the United States for more than a century.  Referred to as silica sand or industrial sand, it is used for a variety of essential industrial purposes, including as feedstock for glassmaking, cores for molding metal castings at foundries, metal production, and household and industrial cleaners; construction supplies such as concrete; bedding for livestock; an abrasive in toothpaste; filtering drinking water; and hydraulic fracturing, a technique used in oil and natural gas production.

In recent years, the use of silica sand for hydraulic fracturing using horizontal drilling techniques has been the largest factor driving growth in the industrial sand market.  Industrial sand, commonly referred to as “frac sand,” is crucial to the process of recovering oil and natural gas from shale, tight sandstones, and other unconventional rock formations.2 Growing demand for frac sand has led to an increase in volume and value of industrial sand produced in the United States.  READ ARTICLE