Contracted Fracking

Article by Kristen van de Biezenbos

As lawmakers in Congress have promised to facilitate the expansion of oil and gas development and have removed some existing restrictions, a significant portion of this development will likely involve hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Current regulations do not necessarily curb fracking’s negative impacts on quality of life, nor do they always offer adequate environmental protections. While state and local regulatory responses to many of those problems have ballooned, conflicts between states and local residents have also risen. Because the possibility of resolving those conflicts through federal regulation is remote, alternative solutions are critical. This Article suggests one such alternative: private contracting between communities and oil and gas companies. Drawing on existing literature on analogous contracts between industry and community groups, this Article suggests that it may be possible to include local input in the governance of fracking by encouraging communities to enter such contractual agreements.