Monday, April 15, 2013

Is Federal Regulation of Fracking Needed?

From the Wall Street Journal:
Fracking supporters say it could set America on the road to energy independence and drastically change our economic prospects while helping address climate change.
But who should be in charge of regulating fracking?
Fracking—short for hydraulic fracturing—involves injecting fluids into the ground to access hard-to-reach reserves of oil and natural gas, including shale gas, which the U.S. has in vast abundance but hasn't been able to reach easily up to now.
Many advocates argue that the federal government should step in and regulate the practice more forcefully because fracking can have big environmental impacts that can't be managed effectively by individual states alone. At scale, they say, those hazards inevitably reach across state lines and become a national problem. The result could be widespread bans on the practice and a premature end to the shale-gas revolution, they say.
But others say states are well equipped to regulate fracking. They say the risks of fracking are overstated, and the impacts of fracking—both positive and negative—are mostly local, and different people balance them differently. So regulation should be left to the people who feel them most directly. Existing federal authority can handle whatever problems may spill across state lines, they say.
Jody Freeman argues for federal regulation of fracking. She is the Archibald Cox professor of law at Harvard Law School and was counselor for energy and climate change in the White House in 2009-10. Making the case that regulation should be handled by the states is David Spence, associate professor of law, politics and regulation at the McCombs School of Business and School of Law at the University of Texas.
Read the two conflicting arguments here. 

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