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Fracking: A Primer

Posted by Library Blog on 10/05/2015 at 11:26 AM

There is a lot of talk about fracking these days. In fact, one well-known professor commented, “[t]here are few issues as polarizing and divisive as fracking…” Considering all the talk and polarity, below are some resources about fracking and how to research fracking and law.

The BBC News website has a simple explanation of fracking for the beginner. This story is particularly useful to a law student researching fracking for the first time (even though it focuses primarily on the UK) because it explains that fracking is shorthand for “hydraulic fracturing” which may help you craft a search in a database.

Beyond the Fracking WarsAnother useful source is a book in the library’s collection which is published by the ABA and called Beyond the Fracking Wars: A Guide for Lawyers, Public Officials, Planners and Citizens. This book provides articles on a variety of fracking-related topics including leasing mineral rights, types of gas pipelines, riparian rights, and case studies.

One of the challenges to researching fracking laws is finding information that is non-partisan. Many of the available websites on the topic may not be neutral which may make them hard to trust or rely upon. For example, this website provides a very helpful list of localities which have banned fracking. However, the website is called the Food and Water Watch and its mission is to “stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment” so it may not be the best website to site in unbiased research.

The Environment & Safety Resource Center (BloombergBNA) is an excellent source for tracking current legal information on this topic. A quick search of the term “fracking” located news articles and references to the Federal Register, cases, and a state statute.

Finally, another way to find materials on fracking is to locate a bibliography or list of books and other resources on the topic. For example, the Boston Globe published a short list of fracking books which might be a useful starting place. A more robust bibliography on fracking can be found on the EnerGeoPolitics website which clearly states the bias of the bibliographer. While the law library does not have all of these publications, the RWU University Library may also be a useful source for fracking research, specifically research beyond the law of fracking.