Shaping Unconventional Gas Regulation: Industry Influence and Risks of Agency Capture in Texas, Colorado and Queensland
Environmental and Planning Law Journal (2019) 36(5) 510-530
21 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 11, 2019
Unconventional gas has quickly become a significant energy resource and a site of contestation over the nature and outcome its regulatory processes. Central to this contest are issues of power and capture and the implications for achieving sustainable energy regulation. The influence of dominant industry players can be a serious obstacle for transitions beyond established energy regimes, and can negatively affect the sustainability of energy policy and implementation. Drawing on interviews across three case studies in Texas, Colorado and Queensland, this article examines perceptions of unconventional gas regulators and regulations. It finds a general view from interviewees that economic interests within the unconventional gas industry have influenced regulation, and that this influence is a significant explanation for the failures of regulation and policy to address a number of environmental and societal concerns. Variations are identified between the cases in terms of the extent of possible industry influence, but all three cases reveal common points of vulnerability, including economic arrangements, suboptimal organisational structures, expertise imbalances, limited agency funding and “revolving doors” of staff. The findings suggest that fully addressing these challenges through law alone will be difficult, and instead highlights three governance pathways that could be pursued beyond state law to achieve more effective and sustainable unconventional gas governance.
Keywords: Unconventional Gas, Regulatory Capture, Energy Transitions, Energy Water Food Nexus
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