Wastewater discharged by companies producing natural gas from shale formations, including chemically laced water used in the controversial extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, would be regulated under the EPA initiative, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
The EPA announcement comes amid growing concern over the effect shale gas operations are having on local drinking water sources.
Companies often release water from the operations into municipal wastewater systems that lack the technology to completely remove the chemicals, salt and minerals before sending it into streams and other surface water, said Ben Grumbles, president of the Clean Water America Alliance.
Environmental groups said they welcomed the EPA announcement.
"The nation is in the midst of a fracking-fueled gas rush which is generating toxic wastewater faster than treatment plants can handle it," environmental law group Earthjustice said in a statement.
"The EPA's proposal is a common-sense solution for this growing public health problem and will help keep poisons out of our rivers, streams and drinking water."
The EPA said it would propose final rules for wastewater from shale gas production in 2014.