Hydraulic Fracturing as a Social-Ecological System: Robustness and Governance Implications of Development

TitleHydraulic Fracturing as a Social-Ecological System: Robustness and Governance Implications of Development
Publication TypeStudent Report
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsLaurens E

Over the past decade, natural gas development on the Utica and Marcellus shale has increased substantially. Despite major growth in the industry nationwide, the federal government does little to regulate fracking leaving it up to individual states to pass legislation. The Pennsylvania state government has limited the ways in which municipalities can regulate hydraulic fracturing both explicitly in the form of oil and gas regulations and implicitly in the form of constitutional restrictions on state preemption. Home of the first oil well (Rabe & Borick, 2013), little history of natural gas regulation and seen as a major player in the natural gas industry (“Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,” 2018), Pennsylvania serves as an interesting case study when analyzing institutional restraints on the volatile nature of the natural gas social ecological system. Drawing on institutional theory and using a robustness framework this work aims to fill a gap in literature that neglects diminishing local government capacity within the Marcellus and Utica Shale natural gas resource economy. This paper examines the layered restrictions placed on localities by the Pennsylvania state legislature and the overall robustness of policies at state and local levels. We posit that the current state of governance is inadequate at the local level for communities are unable to limit negative externalities of the volatile natural gas industry.

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Hydraulic Fracturing Governance, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is the second largest national producer of natural gas. Within the natural gas system individuals have the right to lease mineral rights granting production companies the capability to extract the resource. This accessibility coupled with the widespread nature of spillover effects serves as the basis for this common pool resource study, for externalities are not limited to users of the resource.With the federal government obstaining from hyrdaulic fracturing regulation,...
18 Nov 2018