From the Wall Street Journal: April 15, 2013. This is not the complete article, which can be found here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323495104578314302738867078.html?mod=WSJ_JREnergy_4_2_RIGHT
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.
Yes: A National Issue Can’t Be Addressed State by State
By Jody Freeman
We need stronger federal regulation of fracking for a simple reason: It affects the entire nation, not just individual states.
Fracking has the potential to help the U.S. achieve energy independence, boost the economy and reduce greenhouse-gas pollution.
Yet the cumulative environmental impact of drilling at this scale is great, and it needs to be addressed in a comprehensive way. We won’t achieve the full promise of fracking if environmental impacts and public reaction cause land to be pulled out of production.
No: States Can Best Balance The Competing Interests
By David Spence
Like all forms of energy production, fracking entails risks. States are better equipped than the federal government to regulate most of those risks.
Why? Because both the benefits and the costs of fracking fall mostly on states and local communities. States gain the most from added jobs and tax revenue; they face the truck traffic, noise, pollution risks and rapid industrial growth. Consequently, states are in the best position to figure out how best to balance fracking’s costs and benefits.
It is true that the natural-gas industry risks losing public trust if it doesn’t perform to high standards. But turning the regulatory framework over to Washington isn’t the answer.