Comment: Fracing the Environment?: An Examination of the Effects and Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing

Comment: Fracing the Environment?: An Examination of the Effects and Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing

By Brian J. Smith, J.D., Texas Wesleyan School of Law

I. Introduction

"Fracing is now essential to economic production of oil and gas and commonly used throughout Texas, the United States, and the world," and as worldwide demand for fossil fuel rises, it will become an increasingly necessary practice. Recent technological advances in hydraulic fracturing ("hydro-fracing," "fracking," or just "fracing") allow developers access to oil and natural gas buried deep within shale formations that had been inaccessible. The evolution in technology brought a rapid increase in urban gas drilling, a change that could have significant environmental consequences. Today, 80% of all wells drilled in the United States used fracing.

But as is often the case, legal developments surrounding the process have not kept pace with technological developments. Section II of this Article explores the basics of the hydraulic fracturing process, including disposal of wastewater. The Article then examines the sources of the fracing water. Disposal of the wastewater is the focus of Section IV. Section V examines some of the environmental risks associated with the fracing process. Section VI analyzes the current regulations governing fracing, and Section VII suggests how the law could be improved to more adequately protect the environmental interests of residents and businesses while balancing the interests of developers.

II. The Process of Hydraulic Fracturing

Fracing is a process by which immense volumes of water and other fluids are pumped into a well with intense pressure forcing those fluids into subsurface rock formations. The pressure creates cracks ...

Purchase the article, Comment: Fracing the Environment?: An Examination of the Effects and Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing, 18 Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev. 129 (Fall, 2011).

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Hydraulic Fracturing in Shale

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