Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Another interesting article from Hannah J. Wiseman (Texas): Regulatory Adaptation in Fractured Appalachia, a symposium contribution forthcoming in the Villanova Environmental Law Review. The abstract:
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 natural resources. This Article investigates how state regulation has adapted to address this concern and argues that regulations should change in some areas; it suggests steps toward state regulatory improvement and briefly explores additional federal options. The Article concludes that improved regulations, in addition to ongoing studies of risk, are important to effectively balance the continued extraction of this essential bridge fuel and the need to address public concerns, as well as to serve as a model for future regulatory transitions in the energy area.