Legislative History of Hydraulic Fracturing Essay

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Legislative History of Fracking

Legislative history is a term used to refer to the background or events that contribute to the enactment of a statute (Taylor, p.1).  This process includes various activities and/or events such as committee reports, hearings, and floor debates.  Apart from referring to events leading to the enactment of a law, legislative history is usually documented so that it can be utilized in the future to help in the interpretation of a law.  Generally, legislative history provides a suitable foundation for understanding what was involved in the formulation and enactment of a statute.  An example of an issue with a strong legislative history in the United States is hydraulic fracking, which is commonly known as fracking.  This paper examines the legislative history of fracking in the United States and part of policy writing and analysis.  The evaluation includes a brief description of the historical/political context of the issue and an analysis of laws with respect to the development of the policy issue.

Historical and/or Political Context of Fracking in the US

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is one of the major issues in the United States energy sector in the past decade (Manfreda par, 1).  Hydraulic fracturing is defined as a means of enhancing the output at oil and natural gas wells through the use of high-pressure fluid injection to open gas-breaking rock formations (Marten Law par, 1).  This technique has received considerable attention in the United States because it has enabled oil and gas producers to extract these commodities from shale rock.  Since the technique has increased oil and natural gas production within the United States, it has received significant attention to an extent that it’s regarded as a technological breakthrough.  Through this process, this drilling technique has enabled the United States to become one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas across the globe and is projected to enable the U.S. become energy independent by 2020.

In light of these developments, hydraulic fracturing has received considerable attention in policy development.  United States federal government has embarked on several legislative and administrative initiatives relating to fracking operations for more than a decade (Kramer par, 1).  While fracking has had a long history that dates back to 1862, much of the policy initiatives have been carried out over the past two decades because of its potential to make the United States energy independent by 2020.  According to Davenport, the United States first major federal regulations on fracking were unveiled by the Obama Administration in 2015 (par, 1).

            One of the major historical or political issues that has shaped the formulation and enactment of recent statutes relating to fracking is the exemption of hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act.  This act generally governs underground injection activities through its Underground Injection Control Program that include Class II wells linked to the production of oil and natural gas.  While fracking is a national issue, its currently exempted from national environmental laws and from all requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act (Marten Law par, 4).  Given this exemption, the regulation of hydraulic fracturing or fracking has basically been done at state level.  However, the recent significant attention on this drilling technique and its potential benefits to the U.S. energy sector has generated call for changes in regulation of hydraulic fracturing/fracking.  These calls have in turn acted as the historical and/or political context for the formulation of federal regulations on this issue.

Laws and the Development of the Policy Issue

As previously indicated, legislative initiatives regarding hydraulic fracturing/fracking have largely been fueled by the exemption of this drilling technique in the Safe Drinking Water Act.  While this federal regulation covers underground injection activities, it does not contain provisions that cover fracking activities,…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Davenport, Coral. "New Federal Rules Are Set for Fracking." The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Nov. 2017.

GovTrack. "Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act of 2013 (2013 - H.R. 1921)." GovTrack.us. Civic Impulse, LLC, n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2017. .

GovTrack. "H.R. 1084 (112th): Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act of 2011." GovTrack.us. Civic Impulse, LLC, n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2017. .

Kramer, Bruce M. "History and Current Status of Federal Fracing Regulation." American Bar Association. American Bar Association, 3 June 2013. Web. 08 Nov. 2017. .

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