Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is one of the hottest and most controversial topics within the spheres of the environment, energy, foreign policy, and the economy. The situation surrounding federal regulations for fracking may not be as well publicized, but is equally as important. Every industry has regulations whose purpose is to prevent potential hazards to the public’s health, environment, or general wellbeing.
The fact that federal regulations for fracking are practically nonexistent makes this an important topic for better understanding the controversy. Regulations dictate how the process is actually carried out at the technical level. Because of the harms that fracking can have on the environment, it is important to have stringent and consistent regulations across the country to ensure that this harm is minimized. However, the current situation of federal regulations does nothing to ensure the practice’s safety, and rather this responsibility is left up to the states.
This current situation of regulatory framework further perpetuates the controversy surrounding fracking. Some believe that more federal regulations are necessary to ensure the safety of the practice as it continues to grow. Others believe that the states should be the main regulators, as more federal regulations would be redundant and harm the industry.
Understanding this debate is important for Lehigh University students and the general public to understand. The public can have a large influence on the industry through public demonstrations and pressuring their legislators. Seeing as those directly affected by fracking are average people who happen to live in fracking areas, it is important for them to understand the industry and current situation before choosing a side. Understanding this crucial piece of the controversy can help people frame the fracking situation as a whole, and get a better understanding of the forces at play that control the industry.
If the public is aware of the current system of federal regulations, the impact it has, and the outlook for the future, then people can use their influence in the most educated and purposeful way possible, and can direct their efforts to the issues that matter the most.