The Obama administration issued federal regulations for fracking that requires disclosures of the chemicals used on public lands (Drajem & Polson, 2015). The EPA has warned of the potential for contamination of water supplies if safeguards are not maintained (Daley, 2015). The byproducts of fracking must be closely monitored to ensure water supplies are protected and theses wells should also be monitored before and after drilling. Regulations must be put into place that will scrutinize companies during the drilling process (Mooney, 2011). In Texas, the Barnett Shale Company designs setbacks to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our population; protect the rights of property owners; safeguard the environment; and promote efficient gas extraction (Haley et al., 2016). The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) is responsible for monitoring oil and gas exploration, extraction, production, and transport (Haley et al., 2016). Ssetback distances are determined by Texas State Legislature Section 253.005c, and a well may not be drilled in a heavily populated area of a municipality or within 200 feet of a private residence transport (Haley et al., 2016). In 2015, Texas Legislature passed laws prohibiting cities and municipalities from banning the practice of fracking. Under federal law, gas well operators must comply with Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which outline emission standards and compliance schedules for the control of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions (Haley et al., 2016). The EPA establishes minimum gas emission standards and well operators must capture and filter excess gas instead of releasing it into the atmosphere (Haley et al., 2016). Raw natural gas contains hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which is classified by the EPA as a hazardous air pollutant. Due to its toxicity, flammability, and corrosive properties, H2S must be monitored and controlled at all stages of natural gas processing (Haley et al., 2016).
Haley, M., McCawley, M., Epstein, A. C., Arrington, B., & Ferrell Bjerke, E. (2016). Adequacy of Current State Setbacks for Directional High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus, Barnett, and Niobrara Shale Plays. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(9), 1323-1333. Doi:10.1289/ehp.1510547
State governments have the strongest and most immediate
interest in regulating fracking. They are protecting their own local air and
water. State governments are also intensely concerned with providing jobs and
income for their citizens. This gives them an additional interest in seeing
that fracking jobs are both safe and well paid. Overall, the most vigilant
oversight of the fracking process naturally originates at the state level of
I definitely think that the process of fracking for natural gas is sufficiently regulated by state governments. I think that everything is being done to make sure the process is being done in a safe and efficient matter that is environmentally conscious. But with that said, people should still figure out ways to make the process better.
Natural gas reserves in the United States present a remarkable opportunity for economic growth and the lowering of unemployment. However, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a controversial practice which would be used to get much of this natural gas out of the ground. State regulators must follow the best health and science available to make sure that natural gas companies are not cutting corners on safety regulations.
There are still too many unknowns about the results and risks of fracking to know what regulations are really needed, so no, it is actually impossible for a state government to truly regulate it sufficiently. Also consider that many states do not put anywhere near enough enforcement or regulation of environmental standards outside of fracking, and it is hard to believe they could deal with fracking too.
I do not believe the process of fracking for natural gas is sufficiently regulated by state governments. The fracking process is completely new and less efficient than older methods because it is becoming more difficult to find new sources of natural gas. I think we are finding that fracking is quite dangerous, but it will take a while for state governments to catch up and implement appropriate restrictions. It may be something that needs to be banned.