North Carolina has sent back grant funds that it received from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the effects of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on surface water quality.

The state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources was awarded two grants in June totaling $582,305 to conduct surface water testing in areas where fracking is likely to occur in the future. There currently is no fracking being conducted in the state, said department spokesman Jamie Kritzer.

North Carolina applied for the grants in April but later changed its mind about the need for the EPA funding. Tom Reeder, director of the state's Division of Water Resources, rejected the grants, deciding that "the grants were not necessary for the state to fulfill its mission of water quality protection," Kritzer said. "We can and we will do this type of testing without these grants."

 The department's "staff has conducted surface water quality tests periodically over the years," and "we are prepared to do tests prior to the start of extraction."