Regulating Hydraulic Fracturing -- Can/Will States do the Job?

by Ben Somberg

A few months ago Rena Steinzor wrote skeptically here about state (as opposed to federal) regulation of hydraulic fracturing:

... the idea that after doing all this research, EPA should stand back and let the gas-producing states take the lead, stepping in only after much more delay, would amount to a rollback of environmental protection to the dark days of the 1950s and 1960s, before modern environmentalism and federal regulation began.

Last week ProPublica had a useful article on a key aspect of this ("State Oil and Gas Regulators Are Spread Too Thin to Do Their Jobs"). Reporter Abrahm Lustgarten put together the numbers and found:

While the number of new oil and gas wells being drilled in the 22 states each year has jumped 45 percent since 2004, most of the states have added only a few regulators.

It's a troubling read.

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