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Banning Fracking Bans: The Paradox of Local Control

May 20, 2015

Center for Effective Government

May 19, 2015

by Amanda Frank

There is a new paradox emerging in the fracking debate.

The oil and gas industry firmly opposes federal fracking standards, claiming that states know best how to govern their own lands. States are currently responsible for the majority of industry oversight, and rules can vary significantly among them.

But this staunch support for local control doesn’t extend to counties and cities. At least, it doesn’t when those locals are not interested in having fracking in their backyard. Drilling companies have supported state efforts to strip communities of their rights to ban fracking and repeatedly challenged local fracking bans and restrictions in court. The justification? Local restrictions lead to a “patchwork of regulations” that inhibits industry growth. Of course, differing state standards also create a patchwork of policies, but oil and gas companies don’t mind this because most states have rules or practices that favor the industry.

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