Congressional Research Service. October 22, 2013.
Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to recover oil and natural gas from underground low permeability rock formations. Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping fluids (primarily water and a small portion of chemicals, along with sand or other proppant) under high pressure into rock formations to crack them and allow the resources inside to flow to a production well. The technique has been the subject of controversy because of the potential effects that hydraulic fracturing and related oil and gas production activities may have on the environment and health. This report focuses on selected legal issues related to the use of hydraulic fracturing. It examines some of the requirements for hydraulic fracturing contained in major federal environmental laws. It also provides an overview of issues involving state preemption of local zoning authority, as well as state tort law.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43152.pdf [PDF format, 37 pages].
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. September 26, 2013.
Most Americans (65%) continue to favor building the Keystone XL pipeline, perhaps the most politically contentious energy issue in President Obama’s second term. Yet when it comes to another issue making headlines – a proposal to tighten greenhouse gas emissions from power plants – the public favors stricter limits, by exactly the same margin as the Keystone pipeline (65% to 30%). [Note: contains copyrighted material].
http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/9-26-13%20Energy%20Release.pdf [PDF format, 19 pages]
YaleGlobal. September 3, 2013.
Innovations in drilling and hydraulic fracture technologies have opened new supplies of shale oil and gas for the United States, and other countries are intrigued. The United States anticipates energy independence, but the US shale energy boom may be unsustainable and success may not automatically be replicated in other markets, according to the author. A secure market requires the right geology, government regulations, technical expertise and funding. Without further technological development, the shale oil revolution could be a passing trend that simply delays the search and development of alternative fuels that stem climate change, writes the author. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Center for American Progress. July 2013.
The United States is currently experiencing a boom in natural-gas production and use due to advances in drilling and extraction technologies. Natural gas has been celebrated as a so-called bridge to a clean energy future and climate stabilization. This report finds that natural gas has an important role to play in achieving the emissions reductions necessary to stabilize the climate and prevent the worst impacts of global warming. In the near term, natural gas presents opportunities to reduce carbon pollution insofar as it burns more cleanly than coal and can be used to significantly replace coal in the generation of electricity. It also presents opportunities in the transportation sector, as natural-gas vehicles are a cleaner alternative to traditional vehicles and increasingly are being used in both private and public fleets. In addition, the natural-gas expansion may present some near-term economic benefits for middle- and lower-income Americans by creating jobs and stimulating the manufacturing sector. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/NaturalGasReport.pdf [PDF format, 26 pages].
Environment America Research & Policy Center. July 2013.
Fracking operations pose a staggering array of threats to U.S. environment and health – contaminating drinking water, harming the health of nearby residents, marring forests and landscapes, and contributing to global warming. Many of these damages from drilling have significant “dollars and cents” costs. To the extent that drilling is allowed to continue, policymakers must require, among other things, that the oil and gas industry provide up front financial assurance commensurate with the potential for damage. [Note: contains copyrighted material].