Environmental Law

Envt'l Law News Spring 2014, Vol. 23, No. 1

As Jurisdictions Like California Sort Out Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing, NIMBY Approaches Pop Up in Other Jurisdictions

by Shannon S. Broome* and Julia A. Miller**

The potential for impacts from hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") has attracted increasing interest-gaining particular momentum in 2013 with additional regulation promised in 2014, including California’s recently-issued emergency regulations governing this economic activity. In case you haven’t heard, fracking is the process of injecting fluids under high pressure to crack underground formations and release oil and gas, which allows for oil and natural gas production in places where conventional technologies are ineffective. As a result, massive new supplies of oil and clean-burning natural gas from dense deposits of shale are now possible. Indeed, fracking is changing the domestic energy landscape.

Examples of the positive consequences of fracking are:

  1. improved United States’ energy security and energy efficiency,
  2. reduced greenhouse gas emissions due to increased availability of natural gas, thereby reducing the need to burn coal to generate electricity,
  3. economic benefits like reduced energy costs and increased employment opportunities in engineering, surveying, construction, and environmental permitting, and
  4. improved tax bases.

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