The Shale Renaissance is very welcome addition to the literature on state policy responses to the emergence of unconventional gas drilling. Through a deep and thorough dive into Pennsylvania’s development of a regulatory framework for the fast and widespread efforts to tap into the robust Marcellus Shale, Fisk, Jordan, and Good provide valuable insight into the challenges states face in governing the major opportunities and risks that arrived with hydraulic fracturing.
Although a technique for hydraulic fracturing—more commonly known as fracking—was developed and implemented in the 1970s in Texas, fracking of the Marcellus Shale formation that stretches from West Virginia through Pennsylvania to New York did not begin in earnest until the twenty-first century. Unconventional natural gas production via fracking has ignited debate, challenged regulators, and added to the complexity of twenty-first-century natural resource management. Through a longitudinal study taken from 2000 to 2015, Jonathan M. Fisk, Soren Jordan, and A. J. Good examine how the management of natural resources functions relative to specific regulatory actions including inspections, identifying violations, and the use of specific regulatory tools. Ultimately, they find that factors as disparate as state policy goals, elected officials, the availability of data, inspectors, front-line staff, and the use of technology form a context that, in turn, shapes the use of specific regulatory tools and decisions.
Important, insightful, and a valuable addition to the literature on the shale gas industry. The Shale Renaissance moves the role of regulatory compliance and enforcement in oil and gas management to the front lines of our understanding of fracking and its impacts on residents and communities. With a myriad of regulations across multiple state agencies, Fisk, Jordan, and Good unpack the politics and management of compliance in Pennsylvania to understand impacts that regulatory tools and decisions have on policy goals and outcomes.
Jonathan M. Fisk is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Auburn University. He teaches courses on public service ethics and leadership, environmental policy and politics, and state and local government. He is also the chair for the American Society of Public Administration’s Section on Environment and Natural Resource Administration.