Regulatory Adaptation in Fractured Appalachia
65 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2011
Date Written: December 2010
America faces a growing energy challenge. We require energy for our every activity, yet we increasingly recognize that there are no easy energy solutions. Reliance upon traditional fossil fuels - many of them imported-jeopardizes our national security and releases harmful emissions, yet renewable energy technologies require high capital investments and have environmental impacts of their own. As we address this challenge and move toward a more sustainable energy future, "bridge fuels" like domestically-produced natural gas offer a near-term compromise between renewables and traditional fossil fuels. A growing quantity of bridge fuel in the form of domestic natural gas is produced from American shales through a process called hydraulic fracturing, and this practice is booming in the Appalachian region. Some residents of this region are now asking how this type of extraction can and should occur while adequately preventing potential harm to their health and their treasured natural resources. This Article investigates how state regulation has adapted to address this concern and argues that regulations must improve in some areas; it suggests steps toward state improvement and briefly explores additional federal options. The Article concludes that improved regulations are important to address potential environmental- and health-related concerns and to serve as a model for future regulatory transitions in the energy area as America slowly shifts toward a new energy base.
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