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Topics in Public Policy: Researching Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas has generated a great deal of controversy regarding the impacts on the environment and public health. The controversy is ongoing in many areas of the United States including New York State. There has been a moratorium on the practice in New York State since 2008. Nevertheless, the controversy continues on many fronts, including law suits challenging the legality of local government bans on fracking. Gov. Cuomo has been holding off on issuing fracking permits until a review of the public health effects of the practice is completed by the New York State Department of Health. You may wish to review the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's information page regarding the environmental impact.


The New York State Legislature has conducted hearings on the topic including:

Hearing of the Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation and Health on the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing techniques. New York (State). Legislature. Assembly. Committee on Environmental Conservation. May 26, 2011 (Albany, NY).

Hearing on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposed high volume hydraulic fracturing regulations. New York (State). Legislature. Assembly. Committee on Environmental Conservation. January 10, 2013 (Albany, NY). Available at the New York State Library.

Public interest groups in New York State concerned with this issue include:
*Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York
*The Public Policy Institute of New York State
*Citizens Environmental Coalition
*Environmental Advocates of New York

FEDERAL LEVEL
As indicated above, the controversy regarding hydraulic fracturing is both a state and national (federal) issue. A good source for overviews of the federal policy issues are Congressional Service Reports which are available in the GalleryWatch CRS Reports database. Relevant reports include:

*Adam Vann. Legislative Attorney; Brandon J. Murrill. Legislative Attorney; Mary Tiemann. Specialist in Environmental, P. (2013). Hydraulic Fracturing: Selected Legal Issues.
Brandon J. Murrill, L. (2013). Hydraulic Fracturing and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Selected Issues.
*Mary Tiemann, S. (2012). Hydraulic Fracturing and Safe Drinking Water Act Issues.

Another good place to get an overview of a national public policy issue is the CQ Researcher. Here is a reference to an article on fracking:

McGlynn, Daniel. “Fracking Controversy: Are New Natural Gas Drilling Practices Safe?” CQ Researcher. 21(44): 2011, p. 1049-1072.

Congressional hearings can also be a good source of information especially regarding an articulation of the pros and cons surrounding aspects of the topic. Most recent Congressional hearings will be available in digital format from a link in their Minerva record. Here are some references to hearings on fracking:

*Emergency response in the Marcellus Shale region: field hearing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, United States Senate, One Hundred Eleventh Congress, second session ... July 26, 2010 (Pittsburgh, PA). Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 2012. University Library / GovDoc: J 85 Y 4.L 11/4:S.HRG.111-1148 and Online.

*Impacts of the Bureau of Land Management’s hydraulic fracturing rule on Indian tribal energy development: oversight hearing before the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs of the Committee on Natural Resources, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, second session, Thursday, April 19, 2012. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2013. University Library / GovDoc: J 85 Y 4.R 31/3:112-106 and Online

*Natural gas, America’s new energy opportunity: creating jobs, energy, and community growth: oversight field hearing before the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources of the Committee on Natural Resources, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, second session, Monday, February 27, 2012, in Steubenville, Ohio. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2013. University Library / GovDoc: J 85 Y 4.R 31/3:112-96.

*Natural gas resources: hearing before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, first session, to explore opportunities and challenges associated with America’s natural gas resources, February 12, 2013. Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 2013. University Library / GovDoc: J 85 Y 4.EN 2:S.HRG.113-1.

*Shale gas and water impacts: hearing before the Subcommittee on Water and Power of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, first session, to examine shale gas production and water resources in the eastern United States, October 20, 2011. Washington: U.S. G.P.O. : For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O., 2012. University Library / GovDoc: J 85 Y 4.EN 2:S.HRG.112-247.

Other federal government sources of information would include the Environmental Protection Agency’s fracking page and program evaluations conducted by the Government Accountability Office.

Here is an example of a GAO report:

United States. Government Accountability Office. Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: key environmental and public health requirements: report to congressional requestors. Washington, DC: GAO, 2012.

The University Library also has some books on this topic including:

*Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale by Tom Wilber. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012. Dewey Library / HD 9581.2 S53 W55 2012.

*The End of Country by Seamus McGraw. New York: Random House, c2011. University Library / HD 9502 U53 P4533 2011.

*Beyond the Fracking Wars: A Guide for Lawyers, Public Officials, Planners, and Citizens edited by Erica Levine Powers. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 2013. Dewey Library/ on order.

Those seeking additional information on this topic from a public policy perspective may want to search the PAIS database for references to books, government documents, research reports and journal articles.

If you are interested in researching this topic, contact our Public Affairs Subject librarian, Richard Irving, for assistance. He can be reached at 442-3698 or rirving@albany.edu.

Blog post created by Richard Irving and Cary Goldin

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