Fracturing Regulation Applied

Hannah Jacobs Wiseman

Florida State University - College of Law

January 7, 2012

Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum, Forthcoming 2012, (Invited symposium contribution)
FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 582

America has a long history of oil and gas extraction, but a relatively new extraction technique called slickwater hydraulic fracturing has captured the attention of the public, academics, agencies, and politicians. The newly-revived focus on domestic oil and gas — and particularly on fracturing — has tended to center around the adequacy of environmental laws as written. A range of interested parties have questioned whether states, which shoulder the core responsibilities for regulating drilling and fracturing, have adequate regulatory regimes to address an array of potential environmental effects. The focus has tended to be on the text of regulations, however, and not on how regulations operate in practice: How states apply regulations by inspecting sites, noting violations, and enforcing violations when they believe that enforcement is justified. This paper expands the small literature that has emerged in this area, providing a preliminary glimpse into state environmental regulations applied to wells that are drilled and fractured. It briefly explores the types of violations that states have noted so far at fractured wells, the enforcement actions that they have issued in response, and the potential reasons for these patterns. Although much more detailed work will be necessary to accurately pinpoint regulatory patterns, the initial picture suggests a wide array of violations and enforcements associated with a range of potential environmental effects — many benign, but some serious. States have noted a number of substantial issues, from spills to improper maintenance of pits for waste, while others have tended to identify less pressing matters, such as operators’ failure to mow weeds around the wellhead. States’ enforcement responses to these violations also have varied substantially, perhaps due to differing policy directives and wills to enforce, budgetary needs, understaffing, or problems of regulatory capture.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 24

Keywords: hydraulic fracturing, fracking, fracing, frac, frack, hydrofracking, shale, natural gas, gas, enforcement, violation, state, oil, agency

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: January 30, 2012 ; Last revised: March 25, 2015

Suggested Citation

Wiseman, Hannah Jacobs, Fracturing Regulation Applied (January 7, 2012). Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum, Forthcoming 2012, (Invited symposium contribution); FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 582. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1993340

Contact Information

Hannah Jacobs Wiseman (Contact Author)
Florida State University - College of Law ( email )
425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States

Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 2,387
Downloads: 397
Download Rank: 56,985