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Options for Regulating the Environmental Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing

August 2015

Citation: ELR 10752

Author: Leslie Carothers

The ELI-Vanderbilt Law School Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review identifies outstanding academic work in the field of environmental law. The reviewers selected two excellent articles on the challenges of hydraulic fracturing (fracking for short) to the regulatory system for presentation and discussion at the 2015 program on Capitol Hill: David A. Dana and Hannah J. Wiseman, A Market Approach to Regulating the Energy Revolution: Assurance Bonds, Insurance, and the Certain and Uncertain Risks of Hydraulic Fracturing, and Thomas W. Merrill and David M. Schizer, The Shale Oil and Gas Revolution, Hydraulic Fracturing, and Water Contamination. Both articles address many of the common issues raised about the strengths and weaknesses of the current and potential alternative regulatory approaches, while emphasizing different but not mutually exclusive solutions. This comment will focus primarily on the approaches to setting regulatory standards and securing compliance by the key actors in the cycle of production and site restoration. It concludes with a comment on the problem of cumulative impacts of fracking on landscapes, an issue receiving less attention in the articles, and the importance of maintaining local land use authorities to contend with those impacts.

Leslie Carothers is a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute.

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