Shale Gas and State Regulatory Functions

About 10,000 feet below much of the United States lurks a wealth of natural gas. This high-profit resource is accessed by “fracking,” or piping pressurized chemicals and water into a deep bore in order to break apart compressed layers of shale, releasing the gas between them, and pumping the gas to the surface.

As part of Tushar Kansal’s thesis (MCP 2012), he asked whether the states or the federal government is better able to regulate the risks and environmental and community impacts associated with fracking.

Tushar’s analysis hinges on four concerns:

1) the geographic distribution of costs and benefits associated with shale gas development

2) the regulatory capacity at the federal level and at the state level

3) what it takes to foster innovation, flexibility, and adaptability, and

4) which level can better provide efficiency, certainty, and stability.

Tushar finds that in most cases, states are the more capable regulators, and he includes advice to both federal and state-level agencies regarding on-going efforts to control the adverse impacts of shale gas development. Read his full thesis here.