After months of warnings from scientists that hydraulic fracturing was a dangerous development, the Trump administration is expected to ban the controversial technique in the coming weeks.
The move comes amid widespread calls for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take a harder line against fracking.
The administration announced last week that it would lift restrictions on hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania, where it has banned it since 2006.
The Trump administration has also said it would relax its rules on fracking in West Virginia, New Mexico, and Colorado, among other states.
Trump, however, has not yet signed the executive order, which is expected within weeks.
A spokesman for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Wednesday that the agency was in the process of preparing an “appropriate regulatory framework for hydraulic fracturing” and would make a final decision within a week.
The new executive order was the latest in a string of regulatory decisions by the Trump Administration that could affect water and energy use.
The White House has already issued a moratorium on new fracking leases in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
A number of environmental groups have also warned that hydraulic fracking could contaminate drinking water supplies in parts of the country, and the Trump EPA has warned that fracking can disrupt water supplies.
Earlier this month, the administration also said the administration would relax the restrictions on new coal leasing in Pennsylvania.
It also is considering lifting an Obama-era rule that required utilities to treat wastewater from oil and gas extraction as if it was drinking water.
In December, the Environmental Defense Fund sued the Trump Environmental Protection Administration on behalf of people who were exposed to the chemicals during fracking.
On Thursday, the group filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, arguing that the EPA has no authority to take such action.
“This administration is moving to strip states of their ability to regulate fracking,” Erik Altieri, the executive director of the environmental advocacy group, said in a statement.
“We are confident that the courts will ultimately find that the Trump’s Clean Water Rule is a ‘blank check’ for the EPA to issue fracking regulations in a manner that is likely to harm our water supplies and our air and soil, not to mention harm our communities.”
The move is expected not to go over well with those who have long warned that the Obama Administration’s moratorium on fracking was too broad.
“There are plenty of other states with a moratorium, but not in the states that were hit hardest by fracking,” Michael Brune, the president of the West Virginia Waterkeeper Alliance, said on Thursday.
“It’s time for this administration to end its reckless disregard for public health and safety.”
A Trump administration spokesperson told The Hill that the executive action would not affect any existing regulations.
“The Department of Energy and EPA have already been working together to advance our state’s energy policies, including on hydraulic fracking,” the spokesperson said.
“EPA and DOE are currently working with Pennsylvania to develop a state-wide framework for fracking that will ensure that fracking does not threaten our water resources.”
The new EPA action comes as the Trump White House and industry lobbyists are gearing up for a new round of meetings between Trump and his cabinet.
The agenda includes a potential Cabinet nominee for EPA, a key agency that would regulate the energy industry, and a meeting with state officials.
EPA Administrator Pruitt has previously suggested that the new rules would make the agency’s permitting and enforcement of fracking rules more difficult.
The Obama administration issued rules for new fracking permits in California, New York, and Texas.
The state of New Mexico and Colorado also have adopted fracking regulations.