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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Resources for the Future releases review of shale gas regulations by state

Resources for the Future (RFF) Center for Energy Economics and Policy has released an analysis and map of state regulations governing shale gas development in the 31 states that have significant shale gas reserves or where industry shows interest in shale gas development. The complete set of maps is downloadable here.

This is an important and rich overview of the regulatory patterns, similarities, and differences among states. It does not, as RFF points out, authoritatively compile any given state's regulations or fully analyze any specific regulation. RFF has also included the American Petroleum Institute's (API) best practices and included them in the maps.  

This is an extremely useful analysis.  Bear in mind that state regulations are numerous, dense, customized to each state’s particular situations, geology, hydrology, and more. They differ widely state-to-state, and it’s close to impossible to capture nuances within rules that can be crucial.  Words, definitions, and classifications matter. (If you doubt that - and even if you don’t - take this eye-opening quiz on how Pennsylvania categorizes violations of its shale gas regulations.)  As does how those regulations are enforced.

RFF has performed an important service that can aid in getting shale gas regulations right - we are not there yet, by a long shot – and in advancing what must be a process of continuous improvement of regulatory oversight – and gas industry performance. 

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